CS General John B. Floyd
Resignation as US Secretary of War
Dec. 29 1860
On the evening of the 27th instant I read the following paper to you in the presence of the Cabinet:
It is evident now from the action of the commander at Fort Moultrie, that the solemn pledges of this government have been violated by Maj. Anderson. In my judgment but one remedy is now left us by which to vindictae our honor and prevent civil war. It is in vain now to hope for confidence on the part of the people of South Carolina in any farther pledges as to the action of the military. One remedy only is left, - and that is to withdraw the garison from the harbour of Charleston altogether. I hope the President will allow me to make that order at once. This order
in my judgment can alone prevent bloodshed and civil war.
John B. Floyd
Secretary of War
To the President December 27, 1860"
I then considered the honor of the administration pledged to maintain the troops in the position they occupied; for such \had/ been the assurances given to the gentlemen of South Carolina also had a right to speak for her. South Carolina, on the other hand gave reciprocal pledges that no force should be brought by them against the troops or against the property of the United States. The sole object of both parties to these reciprocal pledges was to prevent collision and the effusuion of blood; in the hope that some means might be found for a peaceful accomodation of the existing troubles; the two Houses of Congress having both raised committees looking to that object.
Thus affairs stood until the action of Major Anderson, (taken unfortunately while commissioners were on their way to this capital on a peaceful mission looking to the avoidance of bloodshed) has complicated matters in the existing manner. Our refusal or even delay to place affairs back as they stood under our agreement invites collision and must inevitably inaugurate civil war in our land. I cannot consent to be the agent of such a calamity.
I deeply regret to feel myself under the necessity of tendering to you my resignation as Secretary of War; because I can no longer hold it under my convictions of patriotism, nor with honor, subjected as I am to the violation of solemn pledges and plighted faith.
With the highest personal regard
I am most truly yours
John B. Floyd
To his Excellency, The President of the United States
Transcribed by Marlitta H. Perkins from a letter by John B. Floyd, contained in the Papers of Robert Morton Hughes , Collection Number: MG 7, Special Collections of the Perry Library at Old Dominion University , Norfolk, VA.