The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3

By John Niven; James P. McClure et al. | Go to book overview
1. Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens, at Pensacola, Fla., were the only military posts in the seceded states that remained in Federal possession. Potter, Impending Crisis, 548.
2. The date and this endorsement are in Lincoln's hand.

FROM RICHARD ELA

Autograph letter. Chase Papers, Library of Congress (micro 15:0011).

Washington 12th April 1861

Sir:

In compliance with your request, I respectfully submit the following statement of the state of political feeling at the South West as far as it came under my observation during my late visit to Mobile and New Orleans.1

My business in that region was of a private character, arising from the estate left by lately deceased brother who had been for more than twenty years a trader at Mobile, and who had named me Executor of his will. During the ten days I was in that city, that estate occupied my attention and brought me into contact with many individuals of various classes and pursuits.

I was very much surprised at the apparent unanimity of that population in support of the secession policy. For some months past, I have been generally aware of the professed alarm of people from the South in regard to their rights and property--but I was unprepared to find such a unanimity among them. Without in any instance having introduced conversation on political subjects, I think every person with whom I had business in Mobile, addressed me questions as to the probable course of the Government at Washington towards the South. My reply to such questions was, that I had no means of knowing the intentions of the Government beyond the views expressed in the Presidents inaugural address,2 and the course of its supporters during the late session of Congress--that I did not beleive the Government contemplated any hostile measure, but it was bound to execute the laws as far as practicable.

Sometimes this led to further discussions the particulars of which it is impossible for me to recollect and state. The upshot was, that every person with whom I held conversation, whether originally from the North or South, expressed the firmest determination to support the Confederate States, as the only mode of preserving their rights and property. Perhaps the best mode of giving you a general idea of the mixture of argument and feeling which pervaded their conversations, will be to endeavor to state the leading points of a discussion I had with one of the most enterprizing and successful traders at Mobile, like my brother a native of New Hampshire who had been on the most intimate social relations with him for many years. He is a private gentleman with whose frankness and practical views I had been most favorably im

-56-

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