WBTS Sesquicentennial–Peaceful Secession or War?
From: bernhard1848@att.net
The Buchanan administration as well as the fanatic disunionists in the North were amply forewarned of the consequences of any coercion attempts against South Carolina.
Bernhard Thuersam, Director
Cape Fear Historical Institute
The War Between the States Sesquicentennial:
Peaceful Secession or War?
“What is indisputable is that the overwhelming majority of South Carolinians believed in the imminence of a peaceful acquiescence by the North to the secession of the State. They had good reason to think so. The correspondence of all the State’s leaders was replete with letters from Northern conservatives giving assurances that there would be no attempt to restrain the secession movement by force if their erring sisters chose disunion.
Immediately after the act of disunion was ratified these disclaimers continued to pour in, often, like Boston’s Charles Eliot Norton, giving congratulations and approval, or, like Thomas Bell, and Illinois farmer, pledging their support in putting down “this ungodly howling of Mr. Lincoln’s

[Negro] Equality.” Similar disavowals of hostility before secession were daily repeated by such…newspapers as the New York Herald. And, of course, there was the famous, and since disputed offer by Horace Greeley’s anti-slavery New York Tribune to let the slave states “depart in peace…”
Such critical assurances continued right up to the moment of secession. On December 19, Congressman [Milledge] Bonham reported from Washington that Andrew Johnson [of Tennessee} had just delivered a combative speech denouncing the secession movement and promising not simply to crush the rebellion, but to reconstruct any State which attempted secession. According to Bonham, Johnson had declared that South Carolina would be “forced back as a conquered province.”  But Joe Lane spoke for more of his party colleagues when he rebuked Johnson and swore that “he & other Northern democrats will be there to meet Johnson & the invaders with their bloody flags.”
On November 24 [1860]…[Barnwell] Rhett sent a letter to [President] Buchanan asserting that the State would unquestionably leave the Union in the near future, and that it was in the hands of the President alone “to make the event peaceful or bloody. If you send any more troops to Charleston Bay,” Rhett warned, “it will be bloody.”   
(Crisis of Fear, Secession in South Carolina, Steven A. Channing, Simon & Schuster, 1970, pp. 274-277)