Correspondence Between the Governor of Mass. and the Mayor of Baltimore:
To preserve the Union in the spirit and for the purposes for which it was established, an equilibrium between the states, as grouped in sections, was essential. When the territory of Missouri constitutionally applied for admission as a state into the Union, the struggle between state rights and that sectional aggrandizement which was seeking to destroy the existing equilibrium gave rise to the contest which shook the Union to its foundation, and sowed the seeds of geographical divisions, which have borne the most noxious weeds that have choked our political vineyard. Again in 1861 Missouri appealed of the Constitution for the vindication of her rights, and again did usurpation and the blind rage of a sectional party disregard the appeal, and assume powers, not only undelegated, but in direct violation of the fourth section of the fourth article of the Constitution, which every federal officer had sworn to maintain, and which secured to every state a republican government, and protection against Invasion.
If it be contended that the invasion referred to must have been by other than the troops of the United States, and that their troops were therefore not prohibited from entering a state against its wishes, and for purpose hostile to its policy, the section of the Constitution referred to fortifies the fact, heretofore noticed, of the refusal of the convention when forming the Constitution, to delegate to the federal government power to coerce a state. By its last clause it was provided that not even to suppress domestic violence could the general government, on its own motion, send troops of the United States into the territory of one of the states. That section reads thus:
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and on application of the Legislature, or of the executive (when the Legislature can not be convened), against domestic violence.
Surely, if federal troops could not be sent into a state without its application, even to protect it against domestic violence, still less could it be done to overrule the will of its people. That, instead of an obligation upon the citizens of other states to respond to a call by the President for troops to invade a particular state, it was in April, 1861, deemed a high crime to so use them: reference is here made to the published answers of the governors of states which had not seceded to the requisition made upon them for troops to be employed against the states which had seceded.
Governor Letcher of Virginia replied to the requisition of the United States Secretary of War as follows:
I am requested to detach from the militia of the State of Virginia the quota designated in a table which you append, to serve as infantry or riflemen, for the period of three months, unless sooner discharged.
In reply to this communication, I have only to say that the militia of Virginia will not be furnished to the powers at Washington for any such use or purpose as they have in view. Your object is to subjugate the Southern States, and a requisition made upon me for such an object-an object. in my judgment, not within the purview of the Constitution, or the Act of 1795-will not be complied with.
Governor Magoffin of Kentucky replied:
Your dispatch is received. In answer, I say emphatically. Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern States.
Governor Harris of Tennessee replied:
Tennessee will not furnish a single man for coercion, but fifty thousand, if necessary, for the defense of our rights, or those of our Southern brothers.
Governor Jackson of Missouri answered:
Requisition is illegal, unconstitutional, revolutionary, inhuman, diabolical, and can not be complied with.
Governor Rector of Arkansas replied:
In answer to your requisition for troops from Arkansas, to subjugate the Southern States, I have to say that none will be furnished. The demand is only adding insult to injury.
Governor Ellis of North Carolina responded to the requisition for troops from that state as follows:
Your dispatch is received, and, if genuine-which its extraordinary character leads me to doubt-I have to say, in reply, that I regard the Jevy of troops made by the Administration, for the purpose of subjugating the States of the South, as in violation of the Constitution, and a usurpation of power. I can be no party to this wicked violation of the laws of the country, and to this war upon the liberties of a free people. You can get no troops from North Carolina.'
Governor Ellis, who had lived long enough to leave behind him an enviable reputation, was a fair representative of the conservatism, gallantry, and tenacity in well-doing, of the state over which he presided. He died too soon for his country's good, and the Confederacy seriously felt the loss of his valuable services. The prompt and spirited answer he gave to the call upon North Carolina to furnish troops for the subjugation of the Southern states was the fitting complement of his earlier action in immediately restoring to the federal government Forts Johnson and Caswell, which had been seized without proper authority. In communicating his action to President Buchanan, he wrote:
My information satisfies me that this popular outbreak was caused by a report, very generally credited, but which, for the sake of humanity, I hope is not true, that it was the purpose of the Administration to coerce the Southern States, and that troops were on their way to garrison the Southern ports, and to begin the work of subjugation. . .. Should I receive assurance that no troops will be sent to this State prior to the 4th of March next, then all will be peace and quiet here, and the property of the United States will be fully protected, as heretofore. If, however, I am unable to get such assurances, I will not undertake to answer for the consequences.
The forts in this State have long been unoccupied, and their being garrisoned at this time will unquestionably be looked upon as a hostile demonstration, and will in my opinion certainly be resisted.
The plea so constantly made by the succeeding administration, as an excuse for its warlike acts, that the duty to protect the public property required such action, is shown by this letter of Governor Ellis to have been a plea created by their usurpation's, but for which there might have been peace, as well as safety to property, and, what was of greater worth, the lives, the liberties, and the republican institutions of the country.