328 CONFEDERATE MILITARY HISTORY.
the energetic action of the general-in-chief and its mil itary officers in South Carolina, did whatever was in its power short of an open act of hostility to make the secession ineffective. What it did, however, was irritat ing to the people since all the proceedings of the govern ment were well understood in Charleston and all exhibited the purpose of Mr. Buchanan to hold the forts if possible against any attempt of South Carolina to occupy them. It is just to say that the administration of Buchanan did enough in November toward strengthening the harbor defenses in its possession, to justify the ap prehensions of the people of Charleston that their city might be cut off from the world, and be made defenseless in the event that South Carolina seceded. (Life of Buchanan.)
President Buchanan fortified his policy by asking very early in November the official opinion of Attorney-Gen eral Black, which was delivered on the 2oth of the month. According to that opinion the President had only the duty of executing the laws of the Union, without resorting to military force against a State declaring its withdrawal from the Union. He said, " If it be true that war cannot be de clared nor a system of general hostilities carried on by the General Government against a State, then it seems to follow that an attempt to do so would be ip so facto an ex pulsion of such State from the Union. Being treated as an alien and an enemy she would be compelled to act accordingly ; and if Congress shall break up the present Union by unconstitutionally putting strife and enmity and armed hostility between different sections of the country instead of the * domestic tranquillity which the Constitution was meant to insure, will not all the States be absolved from their Federal obligations? Is any por tion of the people bound to contribute their money or their blood to carry on a contest like that?" Upon the legal opinion of this great constitutional lawyer from Pennsylvania and on the judgment of his cabinet, com-