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would give the governor a passport through his lines, with an escort, if desired, to go and return at such time as might be agreeable to him; that he (Gen. Sherman) recognized him (Governor Brown) as the governor of the whole state, and as over one hundred miles of the territory of the state is now behind his line, he (Gen. Sherman) would allow the governor to go and visit his people in the rear if he desired to look after their condition, and return at his pleasure—that he would receive him and other distinguished Georgians at his headquarters, and treat them with the respect and consideration due their positions during the conference which he invited—that he did not wish to be compelled to overrun and desolate more of the territory of the state, &c.
Governor Brown's Reply. “After hearing the statements of Mr. King, the Governor replied
“ Please to make General Sherman an acknowledgment of obligation for the personal courtesies which you say he proposes to extend to me. But as he is only a general commanding an army, and I the governor of a state, neither the constitution of his country nor of my own country confers upon us any power to negotiate a treaty of peace. We probably held but few sentiments in common ; but if we should agree in every particular, we would have power to bind no one by any compact we might make. As our interview could therefore
result in nothing practical, I must decline the invitation. While the portion of the state now in the rear of General Sherman's army is held by him, and the execution of laws of the state suspended by armed force, I know of no service which I could render to the people of that section by a personal visit. If I could better their condition or mitigate their sufferings, I would, on their account, cheerfully go at the expense of any inconvenience or personal sacrifice which the trip might cost me.
“ To the remark that General Sherman does not wish to be compelled to overrun and desolate more of the territory of Georgia, I reply that no compulsion rests upon him to attempt this, unless it be the cruel orders of his government. If he makes the effort, he will find much greater difficulties in the way of his advance for the next hundred miles than those encountered during his march from Dalton to Atlanta Georgia may possibly be overrun, but can never be subjugated, and her people will never treat with a conqueror upon her soil. As a sovereign state she had the undoubted right to dissolve her connection with the government of the United States, when the compact had been violated by the other States of the Confederacy, and to form a new compact, which she has done. She is as sovereign to-day as the day she seceded from the Old Union, and has the same power, by a convention of her people, which she then had, to resume all delegated powers and all the attributes of sovereignty, and
then to declare war, negotiate treaties of peace, and do all other acts which a sovereign state may do. While this power rests upon her people, who are the original source of all sovereignty, her constitution, formed by them, has conferred no such power upon her governor.
“ The fact must not be overlooked, however, that while Georgia possesses the sovereign power to act separately, her faith, which never has, and I trust never will be violated, is pledged by strong implication to her Southern sisters, that she will not exercise this power without consent on their part, and concert of action with them. In league with her Southern sister states, she entered into this contest with full knowledge of all the responsibilities which attached to the act; and come weal or woe, she will never withdraw from it in dishonour. However unequal may be the proportion of suffering or sacrifice which her people may have to endure, she will never make separate terms with the enemy which may free her territory from invasion, and leave her confederates in a lurch. Whatever may be the opinion of her people as to the injustice done her by the Confederate administration, she will triumph with her Confederate sisters, or she will sink with them in common ruin. The intelligent people of Georgia already understand, and our enemy will soon learn, that the independent expression of condemnation of the administration is one thing, and disloyalty to our sacred cause is
another and quite a different thing. While the people of Georgia think for themselves, and will not blindly applaud the mismanagement of their rulers, they will never violate principle for expediency, nor accept dishonour for reward.”
THESE were appointed and commissioned by the administrators of the Southern Confederacy to proceed to Washington, open negociations with the Federal government, and seek to obtain a peaceable settlement of all questions involved in the separation which had taken place. Lincoln promised to hear what they had got to say, but denied them the privilege of making known the objects of their mission.
Seward opened up an intercourse with them through Judge Campbell, one of the judges of the Supreme Court, and promised him that no attempt should be made to relieve Fort Sumter, while negociations were going on, but to the surprise and consternation of the Judge, he was informed, meanwhile, that such an attempt was made, which immediately suspended all communication between him and Seward, and caused the Commissioners to return to their homes. The magnetic wires were put in motion, and the treachery and insult of Seward was spread with the lightning's speed all over the South. Fired with resentment the
Southerns flew to arms, made an attack on Fort Sumter, and captured it. When the news reached Boston, Wendell Phillips, Esq., announced that “ large body of people, sufficient to make a nation, have come to the conclusion that they will have a government of a certain form. Who denies them the right? I maintain that on the principles of 1776, Abraham Lincoln has no right to a soldier in Fort Sumter." Why, then, were not the Southerns allowed to “go in peace," as the Hon. Horace Greely and General Scott demanded ? It was because Lincoln and his cabinet bad resolved
" While the inaugural address," says Lincoln, “was being delivered from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, the insurgent agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war; seeking to dissolve the Union, and to divide the effects, by negotiating. Both parties deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let it perish ; and war came.” Yes, came from wanton insult and insidious treachery ; came from unwilling hands and hearts; yet "would make war” on those who "dreaded it, and sought to avoid it;" and at the same time declared to the world concerning those who deprecated it, "the government will not assail you; you can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors."