taken in others of the Cotton States. Throughout the South
three distinct parties contended on the secession question.
One party advocated immediate secession of each State with-
out waiting for any other. The second party advocated coop-
eration among the States, to the end that if one seceded all
might secede together. The third party opposed secession
altogether. For the time being, the immediate Secessionists
had their way in the Cotton States, while in Virginia, North
Carolina, Tennessee, and other States the Cooperationists
and Union men were in the ascendant. The South Carolina
Convention passed its ordinance of secession on December 20,
and at the same time invited the other Southern States to
meet in Convention at Montgomery, Alabama, early next
   As it became clear that the South was in terrible earnest,
a strong feeling for compromise developed in the North and
in the border States. Abraham Lincoln, while conceding
nothing to the theory or policy of secession, took occasion, in
a letter to Alexander H. Stephens of Georgia, to make it
plain that he had no purpose to interfere with slavery in any
State where it already existed.
   December 3 Congress convened at Washington. Presi-
dent Buchanan, in his last annual message, denied the right
of a State to secede, but could not find that the Constitution
gave Congress any power to "coerce into submission a State
which is attempting to withdraw or has actually withdrawn"
from the Union. "The fact is," he said, "that our Union
rests upon public opinion, and can never be cemented by the
blood of its citizens shed in civil war." Attorney-General
Black sustained the President in this view. A committee
appointed by the House declared that "any reasonable, proper,
and constitutional remedies and effectual guaranties of their
political rights and interests should be promptly and cheer-
fully given" to the dissatisfied States. A Senate committee,