April 12, 1861: Democrats enact plans of war against the union ~ Dennis Jamison (UTS’78)

April 12, 1861 The Confederates fire on Fort Sumter. The Civil War begins.

April 12, 1861 The Confederates fire on Fort Sumter. The Civil War begins.

By Dennis Jamison

Dennis Jamison (UTS'78)

SAN JOSE, CA, April 12, 2017 – A major catastrophe developed in the history of the United States when the Democrats reacted badly to their political party’s loss to Republican candidate Abraham Lincoln in the election of 1860. The “Democratic” Party leadership detested losing to the westerner Lincoln, viewed as an abolitionist.

The wealthy Democrat aristocracy of the South felt that Lincoln would come to take their slaves away. South Carolina with the highest percentage of the slave population, and the most property to lose led six other states to secede by the beginning of 1861.

Between the loss of the election in November and Lincoln’s inauguration in March, Democrat leaders established an alternative government in the Confederate States of America. Democrat leaders preferred to illegally separate or secede from the Union. They seized the initiative to establish their own separate government that fundamentally rejected the ideals and values in the Declaration of Independence in order to be able to retain the presumed  “right” to own human beings as private property. This treasonous activity not only unfolded in the Deep South but also occurred in Washington, D.C. right in the halls of the White House.

Although contemporary Democrats have a hard time digesting their Party’s role in instigating the Civil War, the facts are tough things to dispute. Within the White House, Democrat President James Buchanan and several southern loyalist members in his cabinet worked to undermine Lincoln before he assumed the presidency, the “die was cast.” The pathway to war was being forged as South Carolina chose to secede from the Union, and immediately after Lincoln won the election, Democrat Governor Gist of South Carolina demanded President Buchanan surrender the U.S. forts in Charleston Harbor.

Additionally, in a letter dated January 12, 1861, new Governor-elect Francis W. Pickens also demanded that Buchanan surrenders Fort Sumter because “I regard that possession is not consistent with the dignity or safety of the State of South Carolina.”

It is reported that when rumors reached president-elect Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois, that Buchanan had willingly surrendered southern forts, Lincoln is said to have responded that if it were true, Buchanan should have been hanged. The rumors were unsubstantiated. However, the cabinet of Buchanan was pro-southern, moved to undermine the new Republican president.

President Buchanan’s cabinet included four men who were substantial slave owners, and these southern Democrats were outraged that this democrat president would not surrender federal forts to South Carolina. The Northern Democrats were seriously opposed, and with such a divided cabinet and a lack of true leadership from Buchanan, it was possible for the southerners to entertain treason.

Secretary of War, John Floyd of Virginia, threatened to resign if Buchanan refused to hand over federal forts, and even if the president ordered supplies or soldiers to reinforce the fort. The Virginian stated that “It would be an act of aggression against South Carolina which I cannot be a party to; I will resign my office before I will sign such an order.”

Even more treacherously, Secretary Floyd diverted significant shipments of arms and military hardware to southern forts, and those forts were seized directly after Fort Sumter fell. Additionally, Floyd was suspected of diverting $850,000 out of the U.S. Treasury for handling vague “Indian affairs.” Floyd seemingly did as much damage as he could before he actually did resign in a display of self-righteous indignation over Buchanan’s handling of events at Fort Sumter.

Howell Cobb of Georgia, Buchanan’s Secretary of the Treasury, resigned in December 1860, but may have assisted Floyd with the disappearance of the money. He became president of the convention of the seceded states that assembled on February 4, 1861, exactly one month before Lincoln’s inauguration. Under Howell Cobb’s guidance, southern Democrats drafted a constitution for the new Confederacy and elected Jefferson Davis as provisional president. Davis was formally inaugurated on February 22, 1862.

All of these events and more took place before Abraham Lincoln took his oath of office as the bona fide POTUS, and is ironic that Lincoln’s first inaugural address specifically held out hope that the Union could be preserved:

“My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole subject.   Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and, on the sensitive point, the laws of your own framing under it; while the new Administration will have no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him who has never yet forsaken this favored land are still competent to adjust in the best way all our present difficulty.”

“In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, is the momentous issue of civil war. The Government will not assail you. You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the Government, while I shall have the most solemn one to ‘preserve, protect, and defend it… We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Unfortunately, Southern Democrats had already constructed much of the machinery of battle in a hasty rush toward war, all before Abraham Lincoln had the opportunity to issue the wise words of his March 4, 1861, inaugural address.

Sadly, he could have made golden promises to the Democrats of the South, but the Democrats had already manifested an illegal alternative reality of a government in the Confederate States of America. Thus, the real words that proved to be the biggest obstacle to the aristocratic elitist slave owners were the words at the heart of the Declaration of Independence.

Eventually, Mr. Lincoln came to realize that Southern Democrats not only rejected the legitimate results of the 1860 election, Confederate leaders rejected the principles ingrained in the Declaration of Independence, but they ignored or refused to honestly accept the ideals that “all men were created equal.”

Essentially, this was the genuine ideal and fundamental value that Lincoln had to hold onto in the midst of the most destructive and devastating war in U.S. history.

Immediately after taking office, Lincoln not only faced a constitutional crisis of epic proportions, but he was also forced to deal with the reality of a most formidable domestic enemy to the U.S. Constitution and to the American people. Lincoln had inherited the greatest challenge of any previous president. The Democrat leaders of the C.S.A.  were somewhat aware of Lincoln’s beliefs, and they answered the words of his inaugural address,  rejected his words of reconciliation. They answered Lincoln’s words in a most dramatic and destructive way.

Easter Sunday in 1861, fell on March 31, and this most significant Christian holiday calmly passed. However, less than two weeks later, all hell broke loose. On April 12th, shore batteries in Charleston, South Carolina began firing on Ft. Sumter, which was an act of war, and an act of treason – a domestic terrorist attack against a federal military installation. John Brown had been captured and hung for similar actions at Harpers’ Ferry. The blatant Confederate action initiated the most deadly war America has ever fought.

The time of words had passed — the horror of war on American soil commenced!

It is clear that, if Americans started to actually believe the Founding Fathers had meant what they said in the Declaration and America was actually founded upon such self-evident truths, the white southern aristocracy would soon be doomed. So, the Confederacy was formed and it was forced to respond to Abraham Lincoln in the only way they felt that was left open to them: armed aggression to defend their “rights.” Under the command of Gen. Pierre T. Beauregard the fort fell into the hands of the Confederates two days later, when Major Robert Anderson surrendered.

Dennis Jamison (UTS Class of 1978) reinvented his life after working for a multi-billion dollar division of Johnson & Johnson for several years. Now semi-retired, he is an adjunct faculty member at West Valley College in California. He currently writes a column on US history and one on American freedom for the Communities Digital News, as well as writing for other online publications. During the 2016 presidential primaries, he worked as the leader of a network of writers, bloggers, and editors who promoted the candidacy of Dr. Ben Carson. He founded the “We the People” Network of writers and the Citizen Sentinels Project to pro-actively promote the values and principles established at the founding of the United States, and to discover and support more morally centered citizen-candidates who sincerely seek election as public servants, not politicians.

First published in Communities Digital News April 12, 2017

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