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A History of the United States by Cecil Chesterton

Washington lay between Maryland and Virginia


There

remained four Southern States in which the issue was undecided. One of them, Delaware, caused no appreciable anxiety. She was the smallest State in the Union in population, almost the smallest in area, and though technically a Slave State, the proportion of negroes within her borders was small. It was otherwise with the three formidable States which still hung in the balance, Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland. That these were saved to the Union was due almost wholly to the far-sighted prudence and consummate diplomacy of Abraham Lincoln.

Missouri was the easiest to hold. Geographically she was not really a Southern State at all, and, though she was a Slave State by virtue of Clay's Compromise, the institution had not there struck such deep roots as in the true South. The mass of her people were recruited from all the older States, North and South, with a considerable contingent fresh from Europe. Union feeling was strong among them and State feeling comparatively weak. Her Governor, indeed, was an ardent Southern sympathizer and returned a haughty and defiant reply to Lincoln's request for soldiers. But Francis Blair, a prominent and popular citizen, and Captain Lyon, who had raised and commanded a Union force within her borders, between them carried the State against him. He was deposed, a Unionist Governor substituted, and Missouri ranged herself definitely with the North.

The case of Maryland was much more

critical, for it appeared to involve the fate of the Capital. Washington lay between Maryland and Virginia, and if Maryland joined Virginia in rebellion it could hardly be held. Yet its abandonment might entail the most serious political consequences, certainly an enormous encouragement to the seceding Confederacy, quite probably its immediate recognition by foreign Powers. At first the omens looked ugly. The populace of Baltimore, the capital of the State, were at this time pronouncedly Southern in their sentiments, and the first Massachusetts regiment sent to the relief of Washington was hustled and stoned in its streets. The soldiers fired on the mob and there were casualties on both sides. Immediately afterwards the legislature of Maryland protested against the violation of its territory. Lincoln acted with admirable sense and caution. He pointed out that the Federal armies could not fly, and that therefore to reach Washington they must pass over the soil of Maryland; but he made no point of their going through Baltimore, and he wisely provided that further contingents should, for a time, proceed by water to Annapolis. Meanwhile he strained every nerve to reassure and conciliate Maryland with complete success. Within a month or two Federal troops could be brought to Baltimore without the smallest friction or disturbance. Later the loyalty of Maryland was, as we shall see, put to a much more critical test and passed it triumphantly.

The President


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