State an obligation to provide the measures necessary for its defense. It has been obliged to act under the guidance of its own counsels, but has never forgotten the interest of its sister States in every measure which it was about to provide for its own safety. And I beg to assure you that, in all which it may at any time do, a regard for the welfare and wishes of its sister States in the new confederation will exercise a marked influence upon the conduct of this State.
The "questions and difficulties" of Fort Sumter can scarcely be fully appreciated, unless by those who have been familiar with its progress from the commencement of its history to the present moment. If it shall appear otherwise, it has, nevertheless, been the constant, anxious desire of this State to obtain the possession of a fort which, held by the United States, affected its dignity and safety, without a collision, which would involve the loss of life. To secure this end every form of negotiation which could be adopted, in consistency with the dignity of the State, or had the promise or seeming of success, has been honestly attempted. To all of these attempts there has been but one result: A refusal in all cases, positive and unqualified, varied only as to the reasons which were set forth for its justification, has followed each demand. And now the conviction is presented to the State, derived from the most calm and deliberate consideration of the whole matter, that in this persistent refusal of the President of the United States is involved a denial of the rightful independence of the State of South Carolina.
The questions and difficulties, therefore, of Fort Sumter, comprehend now, as you will perceive, considerations which are political as well as military; and it would scarcely be considered that an undue estimate was made of the former if they were said to be as important as the latter. The establishment of them, moreover, is of the utmost consequence to every State which has united with this State in the bonds of a new confederation. The State has held its right to the possession of Fort Sumter to be the direct and necessary consequence of its right, as a sovereign State, to have the control of a military post within its limits, which post, during the period of the political connection of the State with the other States, was held by the United States for the protection of South Carolina because South Carolina was a part of the United States, and being so, upon the United States was devolved the obligation to provide that defense for this State. With the termination of the political connection between South Carolina and the United States the obligation of the United States to defend that State ceased, unless that State itself was the property of the United States. If the State was an independent power the rightful control within its limits of a military post, which involved its dignity and affected its safety, was and is recognized by the plainest rules of public law. The denial, therefore, of the right of the State to have possession of the fort was, in fact, a denial of its independence. Nor has there been even a colorable pretext for a consistency of that possession by the United States with the independence of the State, since the President authorized the distinct avowal that it was held as a military post. The sole use of it as a military post is in the control (called by the President the protection) it gives to the United States of the harbor of Charleston. The assertion, then, as you will perceive, of the rightful independence of the State carries necessarily with it the right to reduce Fort Sumter into its own possession, which is held, as it is, by a hostile power, for an unfriendly purpose. It is a hostile power when it asserts a right to exercise a dominion over the State, which that State refuses to recognize as consistent with its own dignity and safety; and its purpose cannot be otherwise than un