than the conquest of ungarrisoned forts or the plunder of an unguarded mint. At what time the armed occupation of Washington City became a part of the revolutionary programme is not certainly known. More than six weeks ago the impression had already extesively obtained that a conspiracy for the accomplishment of this guilty purpose was in process of formation, if not fully matured. The earnest endeavors made by men known to be devoted to the revolution to hurry Virginia and Maryland out of the Union were regarded as preparatory steps for the subjugation of Washington.
This plan was in entire harmony with the aim and spirit of those seeking the subversion of the Government, since no more fatal blow at its existence could be struck than the permanent and hostile possession of the seat of its power. It was in harmony, too, with the avowed designs of the revolutionists, which looked to the formation of a confederacy of all the slave States, and necessarily to the conquest of the capital within their limits. It seemed not very indistinctly prefigured in a proclamation made upon the floor of the Senate, without qualification, if not exultantly, that the Union was already dissolved-a proclamation which, however intended, was certainly calculated to invite on the part of men of desperate fortunes or of revolutionary States a raid upon the capital. In view of the violence and turbulent disorders already exhibilited in the South, the public mind could not reject such a scheme as at all improbable. That a belief in its existence was entertained by multitudes there can be no doubt, and this belief I fully shared. My conviction rested not only on the facts already allunded to, but upon information, some of which was of a most conclusive character, that reached the Government from many parts of the country, not merely exprssing the prevalence of the opinion that such an organization had been formed, but also often furnishing the pausible grounds on which the opinion was based. Superadded to these proofs were the oft-repeated declarations of men in high political positions here, and who were known to have intimate affiliations with the revolution, if, indeed, they did not hold its reins in their hands, to the effect that Mr. Lincoln, would not or should not be inaugurated at Washington. Such declarations from such men could not be treated as empty bluster. They were the solemn utterances of those who well knew the import of their words, and who, in the exultation of the temporary victories gained over their country's flag in the South, felt assured that events would soon give them the power to verify their predictions. Simultaneously with these prophetic warnings a Southern journal of large circulation and influence, and which is published near the city of Washington, advocated its seizure as a possible political necessity. The nature and power of the testimony thus accumulated may be estimated by the effects produced upon the popular mind.
Apprehensions for the safety of the capital were communicated from points near and remote by men unquestionably reliable and loyal. The resident population became disquieted, and the repose of many families in the city was known to be disturbed by painful anxieties. Members of Congress, too-men of calm and comprehensive views and of undoubted fidelity to their coutry-frankly expressed their solicitude to the President and to this Department, and formally insisted that the defenses of the capital should be strengthened. With such warnings it could not be forgotten that had the late Secretary of War heeded the anonymous letter which he received, the tragedy at Harper's Ferry would have been avoided; nor could I fail to remember that had the early admonitins which reached here in regard to the disigns of lawless men upon the forts of Charleston Harbor been acted on my sending