Patriot’s Defiance to the Menace of Tyranny
“President Davis was at all times most solicitous for peace and adopted every expedient of negotiation that could promote that end. Heartily responding to the wishes of the Congress and people of the Confederacy, he appointed in February

[1861], an embassy to the Government at Washington. The resolution of Congress, asking that the embassy should be sent, explains its object to be the “negotiating friendly relations between that Government and the Confederate States of America and for the settlement of all questions of disagreement between the two governments upon principles of right, justice, equity and good faith.”
Two of these commissioners, Messrs. Crawford and Forsyth arrived in Washington on the 5th of March, the day succeeding Mr. Lincoln’s inauguration. Wishing to allow the President abundant opportunity for the discharge of the urgent official duties necessarily crowding upon him at such a season, the Confederate commissioners did not immediately press their mission upon his attention. At first giving merely an informal announcement of their arrival, they waited until the 12th of March before making an official presentation of their mission. On that day they addressed a formal communication to the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward, announcing their authority to settle with the Federal Government all claims of public property arising from the separation of the States from the Union, and to negotiate for the withdrawal of the Federal forces from Forts Sumter and Pickens.
Here begins a record of perfidy, the parallel of which is not to be found in the history of the world. Mr. Seward, while declining to recognize the Confederate commissioners officially, yet frequently held confidential communication with them, by which the faith of the two Governments was fully pledged to a line of policy, by what should certainly be the strongest form of assurance—the personal honor of their representatives. In verbal interviews the commissioners were frequently assured of a pacific policy by the Federal Government, that Fort Sumter would be evacuated, that the status at Fort Pickens should not be changed and that no departure from these pacific intentions would be made without due notice to the Confederate Government.
The commissioners, comformably to the spirit of their Government, to avoid, if possible, collision with the United States, made an important concession in these interviews in consenting to waive all questions of form. It was alleged that formal negotiations with them in an official capacity would seriously jeopardize Mr. Lincoln’s manipulation of public sentiment at the North, which, it was further confidentially alleged, he was sedulously educating to concurrence with his own friendly purposed toward the Confederates.
By this cunning device and the unscrupulous employment of deception and falsehood in his interviews with commissioners, Mr. Seward accomplished the double purpose of successful imposition upon the credulity of the commissioners and evasion of official recognition of the Confederate embassy.
In the meantime while these negotiations were pending, and in the midst of these friendly assurances, the Lincoln administration was secretly preparing hostile measures, and, as was clearly demonstrated by subsequent revelations, had never seriously entertained any of the propositions submitted by the Confederate Government. Resolved not to evacuate Fort Sumter, the Federal Government, while amusing the Confederate commissioners with cunning dalliance, had for weeks been meditating the feasibility of reinforcing it.
 [T]he Federal authorities continued to practice the base policy of deception with the Confederate commissioners. Upon one occasion Mr. Seward declared that Fort Sumter would be evacuated before a letter, then ready to be mailed, could reach President Davis at Montgomery. Five days afterward, General Beauregard, commanding the Confederate forces in Charleston harbor, telegraphed the commissioners at Washington the ominous intelligence that the Federal commandant was actively strengthening Fort Sumter. The commissioners were again soothed with Mr. Seward’s renewed assurances of the positive intentions of his government to evacuate the fort. As late as the 7th of April Mr. Seward gave the emphatic assurance: “Faith as to Sumter fully kept: wait and see.”  This was the date of the sailing of the Federal fleet with a strong military force on board.
The just characterization, by President Davis of these deceptions was, that “the crooked paths of diplomacy can scarcely furnish an example so wanting in courtesy, in candor, and directness, as was the course of the United States Government toward our commissioners in Washington” (message to the Confederate Congress).
The expedition was some hours on its way (this expedition, ostensibly “for the relief of a starving garrison,” consisted of 11 vessels with 285 guns and 2400 men), when its purpose to provision the fort was announced to the Governor of South Carolina by an agent of the United States. This announcement was telegraphed to Montgomery by General Beauregard who asked for instructions. His government replied that if the message was authentic, a demand should be made for the surrender of the fort to the Confederate forces; and in the event of a refusal, its reduction should be undertaken. On the 11th of April the demand was made and refused.  In obedience to the orders of his government, General Beauregard opened fire upon Fort Sumter early on the morning of the 12th of April. On the 13th the fort surrendered.
Jefferson Davis signed the order for the reduction of Fort Sumter, but he did not thereby invoke the calamities of war. That act was simply the patriot’s defiance to the menace of tyranny. It was the choice of the freeman between resistance and shame.
(The Life of Jefferson Davis,” Frank H. Alfriend, Caxton Publishing House, 1868 (excerpts, pp. 258-265)