Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 28.djvu/188
182 SinilhiTii tli.l<>ri<-<il ,S'or/,7//
just because the Southern States did take this perfectly legal step in a perfectly legal way, these same people of the North, with Abra- ham Lincoln at their head, proceeded, as we shall presently show, without warrant of law or justice, to inaugurate and wage against the South one of the most cruel, wicked and relentless wars of which history furnishes any record or parallel. Is there any won- der, then, that the representatives of the Grand Army of the Re-. public would have us be silent about the facts which we have referred to, and not teach the truths of this history to our children, when we thus condemn them out of their own mouths.
But we come now to consider, who were the agressors who inaugu- rated this wicked war '?
We think it important to make this inquiry, for the reasons already given and because we apprehend, there is a common impression, that inasmuch as the South fired the first gun at Fort Sumter, it really thereby brought on the war, and was hence responsible for the direful consequences which followed the firing of that first shot. Nothing could be further from the trttth. Mr. Hallam, in his Con- stitutional History of England, states a universally recognized prin- ciple, when he says:
" The aggressor in a war (that is, he who begins it) is not the first who uses force, but the first who renders force necessary."
Now which side, according to this high authority, was the aggres- sor in this conflict ? Which side was it that rendered the first blow necessary ?
WHAT MR. STEPHENS SAYS.
Says Mr. Stephens, in his " War Between the States: " "I main- tain that it (the war) was inaugurated and begun, though no blow had been struck, when the hostile fleet, styled the ' Relief Squadron,' with eleven ships carrying two hundred and eighty-five guns and two thousand four hundred men, was sent out from New York and Norfolk, with orders from the authorities at Washington to reinforce Fort Sumter, peaceably if permitted, but forcibly if they must."
He further says:
" The war was then and there inaugurated and begun by the auth- orities at Washington. General Beauregard did not open fire upon Fort Sumter until this fleet was to his knowledge, very near the Harbor of Charleston, and until he had enquired of Major Anderson,