Seward29.html-- Initial Problems at Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens --

 

Seward's Advice

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OPINIONS WRITTEN BY MEMBERS OP THE CABINET AT THE VERBAL REQUEST OF THE PRESIDENT, AT A CABINET MEETING HELD TO DETERMINE THE QUESTION OF SENDING AN EXPEDITION TO RELIEVE FORT SUMTER, March 29, 1861.

Mr. Seward, Secretary of State, wrote:

First. The dispatch of an expedition to supply or reinforce Sumter would provoke an attack, and so involve a war at that point.

The fact of preparation for such an expedition would inevitably transpire, and would therefore precipitate the war, and probably defeat the object. I do not think it wise to provoke a civil war beginning at Charleston, and in rescue of an untenable position.

Therefore I advise against the expedition in every view.

Second. I would call in Captain M. C. Meigs forthwith. Aided by his counsel, I would at once, and at every cost, prepare for a war at Pensacola and Texas: to be taken, however, only as a consequence of maintaining the possessions and authority of the United States.

Third. I would instruct Major Anderson to retire from Sumter forthwith.

 

 

Bibliography: Lincoln, Works, eds. Nicolay and Hay, 6: 227.