“Precipitation is War”

March 20, 1861
The Confederate Commission that had been seeking an audience with the Lincoln administration in Washington since March 4 now seemed lost.

Confederate emissaries Andre B. Roman, Martin J. Crawford, and John Forsythe had arrived in Washington in the final days of James Buchanan’s administration. Their goal was to officially settle differences between North and South and arrange for the peaceable secession and independence of the Confederate States of America.

Their direct entreaties to the administration led to nothing, as Lincoln had forbade conversation with them. An attempt to talk with U.S. Secretary of State William Seward through judicial proxy had also failed.

Their communication with officials in the Confederacy must also have been poor, for today they addressed a memo to General P.G.T. Beauregard, commanding the southern artillery ringing Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor, South Carolina, asking for an update.

“Has Sumter been evacuated? Any action by [U.S. Major Robert] Anderson indicating it?” they wrote.

They also wrote a message to Confederate Secretary of State Robert Toombs in which they urged caution in proceedings over Sumter.
[quote]“You have not heard from us because there is no change,” they said. “If there is faith in man we may rely on the assurances we have as to the status. Time is essential to a peaceful issue of this mission. In the present posture of affairs precipitation is war. We are all agreed. — Roman, Crawford, Forsyth.”[/quote] Meanwhile, Gustavus V. Fox was beginning a mission to Fort Sumter to gather information for President Lincoln, who was weighing whether to relieve or evacuate the fort.

Lincoln had worries on another front as well. His two youngest boys, Willie and Tad, had come down with measles, a potentially fatal illness in 1861. Like in the Sumter crisis, there was little Lincoln could do but wait.

Long, [i]Day by Day[/i]
[url=http://ebooks.library.cornell.edu/cgi/t/text/pageviewer-idx?c=moawar;cc=moawar;q1=March%2020%2C%201861;rgn=full%20text;idno=waro0001;didno=waro0001;view=image;seq=293;page=root;size=200]Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. 1, p. 277[/url]

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