Saturday, April 16, 2011

150 Years Ago: Replies

On Tuesday, April 16, 1861, William Brownlow, the editor of the Knoxville Whig, came up with one of the more memorable quotes of the war, writing that he would "fight the Secessionist leaders till Hell froze over, and then fight them on the ice."

The replies to Lincoln's call for militia began coming in.  The news from Fort Sumter had triggered a wave of patriotism in the North.  The governors were quick to offer their support and soon had more recruits than they could use.

The border states were a different matter though.  Lincoln's call for troops was seen as "coercion" of their Southern brethren.  The governors replied negatively to Lincoln's call and began making plans to leave the Union themselves.

Virginia Governor John Letcher:
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. You have chosen to inaugurate civil war, and having done so, we will meet it in a spirit as determined as the Administration has exhibited towards the South.

Kentucky Governor Beriah Magoffin:
I say, emphatically, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked purpose of subduing her sister Southern states.

North Carolina Governor John Ellis:
Your dispatch is received, and if genuine which its extraordinary character leads one to doubt, I have to say in reply, that I regard the levy of troops made by the Administration for the purposes of subjugating the States of the South, as in violation of the Constitution, and as a gross usurpation of power. I can be no part 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.

Tennessee Governor Isham Harris:
Tennessee will not furnish a single man for the purposes of coercion but 50,000 if necessary for the defence of our rights and those of our Southern brothers.

Arkansas Governor Henry Rector:
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. The people of this commonwealth are freemen, not slaves, and will defend, to the last extremity, their honor, lives and property against Northern mendacity and usurpation.

Missouri Governor Claiborne Jackson:
Your requisition, in my judgment, is illegal, unconstitutional, and revolutionary in its object, inhuman and diabolical, and cannot be complied with. Not one man will the State of Missouri furnish to carry on any such unholy crusade.

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