I ask to be instructed what "civil government" is here meant, and what are the "constitutional rights and privileges" of the loyal inhabitants of this State? If their property is destroyed or removed before peace is restored, what "rights and privileges" are they to expect?
In the interview with the manager of the schools I made use of no threats, used no discourteous language, and treated the gentleman referred to with all kindness. He called the next morning and informed me he had suspended teaching the negro children. I approved what he had done, but nothing approaching unpleasantness occurred during the interview, nor did the thought enter my mind I had given him offense. Not a word was said, nor any intimation given, of any intention to "enforce" the laws of this State. No such thought was in my mind nor ever can be.
I do not intend to the guilty of disrespect to the Secretary nor to betray too much sensitiveness, and will not therefore comment upon what seems to me to be unusual language in requesting an "immediate" answer.
My position is one of great responsibility. I am ready to meet it. I hope it is an honorable one. It certainly can bring no profit and is not unaccompanied with peril. I have great difficulties to overcome-greater than you suppose-and am entitled to al the confidence and support which I was assured I should have.
I believe the President to be sincere in his various public declarations, and wish to make the people of North Carolina believe him to be sincere and patriotic.
But I am grieved to say that some of the most eminent and influential of our citizens, from listening to oft-repeated slanders, have been persuaded and charge the Southern country is invaded by "an enemy who come to rob us, to murder our people, to emancipate our slaves, and who is now preparing to add a new element to this most atrocious aggression, and involve us in the direful horrors of a servile war. He proposes nothing less than our entire destruction, the total desolation of our country-universal emancipation; to crush us, to wipe out the South, to involve us in redeemable misery and hopeless ruin."
Though I know all this is the effect of long-continued excitement, and not words of truth and soberness, but of passion and altogether incorrect in every particular, still they are the words of sincerity, from men of irreproachable lives, who denounced secession as treason down to the day when the North Carolina Convention passed the ordinance of secession.
If this idea, so monstrously incorrect, be in the minds of men of standing and influence, how must the large body of the people regard the action of the General Government?
In view of this most deplorable condition, I avail myself of the privilege I understood from you I should have of asking instructions upon the following points:
1. When slaves are taken from the possession of their loyal masters by violence offered by armed men and negroes, what redress shall be afforded to the owners and what protection for the future?
2. When persons connected with the Army prevail on negroes to leave their masters, shall the loyal master or mistress have permission to prevail on them to return and be protected while so doing?
3. When steamers and vessels are almost daily leaving this State,
26 R R-VOL IX