-- Initial Problems at Fort Sumter and Fort Pickens --


Advice: Montgomery Blair

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Montgomery Blair

Postmaster General Montgomery Blair argued for prompt and vigorous measures to relieve Sumter, maintain federal authority, and put down the insurrection. He asserted that the rebellion in the South had grown powerful because the previous Buchanan administration had done nothing to check its progress. Therefore, "every hour of acquiescence in this condition of things, and especially every new conquest made by the rebels, strengthens their hands at home and their claims to recognition as an independent people abroad." If that policy were continued, the people of the North would become reconciled to the new government and regard it as legitimate.

Blair maintained that weakness by the federal government would assure conflict, not peace, and "go far to produce a permanent division of the Union." To appear weak would hearten and strengthen the secessionists at home against those in the South who opposed them. Blair asserted that Fox could provision and relieve Fort Sumter "with little risk." And if reinforced, it could withstand South Carolina's efforts to seize it, thereby demoralizing the rebellion and leading to its overthrow. But even if the expedition failed, the attempt would vindicate the "hardy courage of the North," and its determination to uphold the government. The restoration of the Union would follow.

Click here for full text of Blair's advice

Bibliography: Lincoln, Works, eds. Nicolay and Hay, 6: 214-17.

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