James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.
to the Virginians it savored of coercion; and coercion in this case meant forcing a State which had seceded, back into the Union. If an attempt was made to coerce a State, Virginia would join the Southern Confederacy. The Confederate States now regarded the old Union as a foreign power whose possession of a fort within their limits, flying the American flag, was a daily insult. They attempted to secure Sumter by an indirect negotiation with the Washington government and were encouraged by the assurances of Seward, Lincoln’s Secretary of State and most trusted counsellor. Had the President known of Seward’s intimation, which was almost a promise, that Sumter would be evacuated, he would have been greatly perturbed and would have called a halt in the negotiations to the end that the Southern commissioners be undeceived. On April 1 he was further troubled by a paper, “Some Thoughts for the President’s Consideration,” which Seward had privately submitted to him as an outline of the fit policy to be pursued. This was briefly: the evacuation of Fort Sumter; the reënforcement of the other posts in the South; a demand at once for explanations from Spain and France and, if they were not satisfactory, a call of a special session of Congress to declare was against those two nations; also explanations to be sought from Great Britain and Russia. With that same rash disregard of his chief and blind reliance on his own notions of statecraft which he had shown in his negotiations with Justice Campbell, the intermediary between himself and the Southern commissioners, who had been sent to Washington by Davis, he gave the President a strong hint that the execution of this policy should be devolved upon some member of the Cabinet and that member, himself. The proposed foreign policy was reckless and wholly unwarranted. Our relations with these four powers were