Providence Daily Post, April 13, 1861

We are to have civil war, if at all, because Abraham Lincoln loves a party better than he loves his country. Ten words from his lips—the simplest assurance that his administration would not attempt to interfere with slavery in the States or in the Territories; and a declaration to the effect that he would rise above party, and attempt the restoration of the Union by conciliation and compromise; would insure a peaceful administration, inspire confidence in the border States, and in a few years at least, bring back the seceded States. Instead of this, he clings to his party creed, and allows the nation to drift into the whirlpool of destruction. While commerce is languishing, and all our industrial interests are threatened with ruin, he calls upon the people of the North—Democrats, Conservatives, and Republicans—to march to the South, and vindicate—what? The national honor? By no means; but the Chicago platform! We must go down there and imbrue our hands in the blood of American citizens, because they do not like to be governed by the Republican creed. A smaller minority of the people than ever before elected a President, has placed Abraham Lincoln in the Presidential chair; thus virtually inaugurating a conflict between the two sections of the country. The cotton States, despairing of justice under such circumstances, have withdrawn from the Union, asking only to be let alone. And now we are invited to bring them back, not by conciliation, but by the sword and the torch—by a war which must end in eternal separation and the ruin of our business interests.

We are told, however, just now, that war results, if at all, from an act of humanity on the part of our government—that the garrison at Fort Sumter needs food, and the effort is to supply them. That is all. Is it all? Look at the facts. For three weeks the administration newspapers have been assuring us that Fort Sumter would be abandoned. They said it could not be provisioned or reinforced without a great sacrifice of life, and without greatly exasperating the whole South; that to abandon it would certainly disappoint and embarrass the secessionists, and kill the spirit of secession in all the border slave States. They had got the public mind all ready for the event, when—presto!—the tables are turned, and Fort Sumter is to be provisioned! Secession is not to be killed! Why?

We think the reader will perceive why. Mr. Lincoln saw an opportunity to inaugurate civil war without appearing in the character of an aggressor. There are men in Fort Sumter, he said, who are nearly out of provisions. They ought to be fed. We will attempt to feed them. Certainly nobody can blame us for that. We ought to feed our gallant soldiers by all means. We will attempt to feed them. The secessionists, who are both mad and foolish, will resist us. Then will commence civil war. Then I will appeal to the North to aid me in putting down rebellion, and the North must respond. How can it do otherwise? And sure enough, how can we do otherwise? The right of the government to provision or reinforce Fort Sumter cannot be doubted. The fort is ours. We have a right to hold it. We have a right to fill it with soldiers. We have a right to send to it forty ship loads of provisions. It is nobody’s business. And when we attempt to provision it, if the South Carolinians interfere, they ought to be taught a lesson which they will remember for a century.

But is it good policy to keep this fort? Is it good policy to attempt to provision the garrison? Would it not be better to kill secession? If the policy of abandoning it, which was announced three weeks ago, was not a good one, why did the Republicans bestow so much praise upon it? What, really, do we want of the fort? It is not worth to us, while South Carolina remains out of the Union, a brass farthing. Why not, then, abandon it, just as Moultrie was abandoned, and allow the secessionists to have a dance on its ramparts[?]

Just at this moment some of the overwise Republican editors are trying to make us believe that Mr. Lincoln has been playing a very shrewd game; that he has been laying his plans to provision Fort Sumter while every body else has been talking about evacuation. We see no evidence of this. Not a single order which is now being executed, dates back more than ten days. There can be no doubt that he intended, two weeks ago, to abandon Sumter. But the pressure from the abolitionists of the North and West was too strong for him. They have forced him to retain a fortification of no value whatever, because to give it up might seem like yielding something to the South. The real motive of a majority of them undoubtedly has been, to inaugurate civil war by what can be presented to the world as an act of peace—the mere feeding of a starving garrison.

We say again, that this measure, impolitic and foolish as it is, is not one that the Southern Confederacy ought to resist or can reasonably complain of. The government is only holding its own property; and any interference with it should be severely punished. Union men have a right to complain, but the secessionists have chosen their way of getting out of the Union, and they should submit to all the troubles incident to their policy.

Even if we grant the right of secession, it does not follow that a seceding State can take with her the government’s property. We may retain what belongs to us, without asking permission of revolutionists. We only condemn the policy of the government because it is unwise, not because it is unjust towards the seceded States. We believe, as the Republicans pretended to believe, three weeks ago, that a very different policy would much sooner kill secession.