connection, and surely, when referring to a fort or any other public establishment, they embraced the entire and undivided interest of the Government therein.
The title of the United States to Fort Sumter is complete and incontestible. Were its interest in this property purely proprietary, in the ordinary acceptation of the term, it might, probably, be subjected to the exercise of the right of eminent domain; but it has also political relations to it, of a much higher and more imposing character than those of mere proprietorship. It has absolute jurisdiction over the fort and the soil on which it stands. This jurisdiction consists in the authority to "exercise exclusive legislation" over the property referred to, and is therefore clearly incompatible with the claim of eminent domain now insisted upon by South Carolina. This authority was not derived from any questionable revolutionary source, but from the peaceful cession of South Carolina herself, acting through her legislature, under a provision of the Constitution of the United States. South Carolina can no more assert it over the district of Columbia. The political and proprietary rights of the United States in either case rest upon precisely the same grounds.
The President is, however, relieved from the necessity of further pursuing this inquiry by the fact that, whatever may be the claim of South Carolina to this fort, he has no constitutional power to cede or surrender it. The property of the United States has been acquired by force of public law, and can only be disposed of under the same solemn sanctions. The President, as the head of the executive branch of the Government only, can no more sell and transfer Fort Sumter to South Carolina than he can sell and convey the Capitol of the United States to Maryland, or to any other State or individual seeking to possess it. His excellency the governor is too familiar with the Constitution of the United States, and with the limitations upon the powers of the Chief Magistrate of the Government it has established, not to appreciate at once the soundness of this legal proposition.
The question of re-enforcing Fort Sumter is so fully disposed of in my letter to Senator Slidell and others, under date of the 22nd of January-a copy of which accompanies this-that its discussion will not now be renewed. I then said: "At the present moment it is not deemed necessary to re-enforce major Anderson, because he makes no such request. Should his safety, however, require re-enforcements, every effort will be made to supply them." I can add nothing to the explicitness of this language, which still applies to the existing status. The right to send forward re-enforcements when, in the judgment of the president, the safety of the garrison requires them rests on the same unquestionable foundation as the right to occupy the fortress itself.
In the letter of Senator Davis and others to yourself, under date of the 15th ultimo, they say: "We, therefore, think it expecilly due from South Carolina to our States, to say nothing o other slaveholding States, that she should, as far as she can consistently with her honor, avoid initiating hostilities between her and the United States or any other power"; and you now yourself give to the president the gratifying assurance that "South Carolina has every disposition to preserve the public peace"; and, since he is himself sincerely animated by the same desire, it would seem that this common and patriotic object must be of certain attainment.
It is difficult, however, to reconcile with this assurance the declaration on your part that "it is a consideration of her [South Carolina's]