at Mount Vernon were on yesterday* peacefully occupied, and are now held by the troops of the States of Alabama. That this act on my part may not be misunderstood by the Government of the United States, I proceed to state the motives which have induced it, and the reasons which justify it, and also the course of conduct with which I design to follow that act.
A convention of the people of this State will, in pursuance of a previously-enacted law, assemble on the 7th instant. I was fully convinced by the evidences which I had that that convention would at an early day, in the exercise of an authority which in my judgment of right belongs to it, withdraw the State of Alabama from the Government of the United States and place it in the attitude of a separate and independent power. Being thus convinced I deemed it my duty to take every precautionary step to make the secession of the State peaceful, and prevent detriment to her people.
While entertaining such a conviction as to my duty, I received such information as left but little, if any, room to doubt that the Government of the United States, anticipating the secession of Alabama, and preparing to maintain its authority within this State by force, even to the shedding of the blood and the sacrifice of the lives of the people, was about to re-enforce those forts and put a guard over the arsenal. Having that information,m it was but an act of self-defense, and the plainest dictate of prudence, to anticipate and guard against the contemplated movement of the authorities of the General Government. Appreciating, as I am sure you do, the courage and spirit of our people, you must be sensible that no attempt at the coercion of the State, or at the enforcement by military power of the authority of the United States within its jurisdiction in contravention of the ordinance of secession can be effectual, unless our utmost capacity for resistance can be exhausted. It would have been an unwise policy, suicidal in its character, to have permitted the Government of the United States to have made undisturbed preparations within this State to enforce by war and bloodshed an authority which it is fixed purpose of the people of the State to resist to the uttermost of their power. A policy so manifestly unwise would probably have been overruled by an excited and discontented people, and popular violence might have accomplished that which has been done by the State much more appropriately and much more consistently with the prospect of peace and the interests of the parties concerned.
The purpose with which my order was given and has been executed was to avoid and not to provoke hostilities between the State and Federal Government. There is no object, save the honor and independence of my State, which is by me so ardently desired as the preservation of amicable relations between this State and the Government of the United States. That the secession of the State, made necessary by the conduct of others, may be peaceful is my prayer as well as the prayer of every patriotic man in the State.
An inventory of the property in the forts and arsenal has been ordered, and the strictest care will be taken to prevent the injury or destruction of it while peaceable relations continue to subsist, as I trust will. The forts and arsenal will be held by my order only for the precautionary purpose for which they were taken, and subject to the control of the convention of the people to assemble on the 7th instant.
With distinguished consideration, I am your obedient servant,
A. B. MOORE.
*But see dates in Summary of Events, p. 326.