Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Jefferson Davis to Franklin Pierce, January 20, 1861

“Mississippi, not as a matter of choice but of necessity, has resolved to enter on the trial of secession.  Those who have driven her to this alternative threaten to deprive her of the right to require that her government shall rest on the consent of the governed, to substitute foreign force for domestic support, to reduce a state to the condition from which the colony arose.  In the attempt to avoid the issue which has been joined by the country, the present administration has complicated and precipitated the question.  Even now if the duty ‘to preserve the public property’ was rationally regarded, the probable collision at Charleston would be avoided.  Security far better than any which the federal troops can give might be obtained in consideration of the little garrison at Fort Sumter.  If the disavowal of any purpose to coerce So. Ca. be sincere, the possession of a work to command the harbor is worse than useless.” [Jefferson Davis to Franklin Pierce, “Some Papers of Franklin Pierce, 1852-1662,” American Historical Review 10 (1909): 366]

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