Winfield Scott to William H. Seward, March 3, 1861

    Source citation
    Winfield Scott to William H. Seward, March 3, 1861, Washington, DC, Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress,
    Date Certainty
    Transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, IL
    Adapted by Don Sailer, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following transcript has been adapted from the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.

    Washington March 3. 1861.

    Dear Sir.

    Hoping that, in a day or two, the new President will have, happily, passed through all personal dangers, & find himself installed an honored successor of the great Washington -- with you as chief of his Cabinet -- I beg leave to repeat, in writing, what I have before said to you, orally, this supplement to my printed "views," (dated October last) on the highly disordered condition of our (so late) happy & glorious union.

    To meet the extraordinary exigencies of the times, it seems to me that I am guilty of no arrogance in limiting the President's field of selection to one of the four plans of procedure, subjoined:--

    I. Throw off the old, and assume a new designation -- the Union party; -- adopt the conciliatory measures proposed by Mr. Crittenden, or the Peace convention, &, my life upon it, we shall have no new case of secession; but, on the contrary, an early return of many, if not all the states which have already broken off from the Union, without some equally benign measure, the remaining slave holding states will, probably, join the Montgomery confederacy in less than sixty days, when this city -- being included in a foreign country -- would require a permanent Garrison of at least 35,000 troops to protect the Government within it.

    II. Collect the duties on foreign goods outside the ports of which this Government has lost the command, or close such posts by acts of congress, & blockade them.

    III. Conquer the seceded states by invading Armies. No doubt this might be done in two or three years by a young and able General -- a Wolfe, a Desaix or a Hoche, with 300,000 disciplined men, estimating a third for garrisons, & the loss of a yet greater number by skirmishes, sieges, battles & southern fevers. The destruction of life and property, on the other side, would be frightful -- however perfect the moral discipline of the invaders.

    The conquest completed at that enormous waste of human life, to the north and north west -- with at least $250.000,000, added thereto, and cui bono? Fifteen devastated provinces -- not to be brought into harmony with their conquerors; but to be held, for generations, by heavy garrisons -- at an expense quadruple the net duties or taxes which it would be possible to extract from them -- followed by a Protector or an Emperor.

    IV. Say to the seceded sisters States -- wayward sisters, depart in peace!

    In haste, I remain,

    Very truly yours
    Winfield Scott

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