Did Lincoln have any idea of the TRUE situation in Fort Sumter? According to the testimony of Col.John B. Baldwin(bio at http://genealogytrails.com/vir/augusta/bio_b.html) he did. That being the case, with either peace or war to be had, Lincoln went ahead with his invasion plans and started a war because of his revenues.
Question.-You drew a distinction between a politician and a gentleman?”
Answer.-yes, sir; he laughed a little at that. He said something about the withdrawal of the troops from Sumter on the ground of military necessity. Said I, “that will never do under heaven. You have been President a month to-day, and if you intended to hold that position you ought to have strengthened it, so as to make it impregnable. To hold it in the present condition of force there is an invitation to assault. Go upon higher ground than that. The better ground than that is to make a concession of an asserted right in the interest of peace.”-“Well,” said he, “what about the revenue? What would I do about the collection of duties?” Said I, “Sir, how much do you expect to collect in a year?”-Said he, “Fifty or sixty millions.” “Why sir,” said I, “four times sixty is two hundred and forty. Say $250,000,000 would be the revenue of your term of the presidency; what is that but a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of such a war as we are threatened with? Let it all go, if necessary; but I do not believe that it will be necessary, because I believe that you can settle it on the basis I suggest.” He said something or other about feeding the troops at Sumter. I told him that would not do. Said I, “You know perfectly well that the people of Charleston have been feeding them already. That is not what they are at. They are asserting a right. They will feed the troops and fight them while they are feeding them. They are after the assertion of a right. Now, the only way that you can manage them is to withdraw from them the means of making a blow until time for reflection, time for influence which can be brought to bear, can be gained, and settle the matter. If you do not take this course, if there is a gun fired at Sumter-I do not care on which side it is fired-the thing is gone.” “Oh,” said he, “sir, that is impossible.” Said I, “Sir, if there is a gun fired at Sumter, as sure as there is a God in heaven the thing is gone. Virginia herself, strong as the Union majority is now, will be out in forty-eight hours.” “Oh,” said he, “sir, that is impossible.” Said I, “Mr. President, I did not come here to argue with you; I am here as a witness. I know the sentiments of the people of Virginia, and you do not. I understood that I was to come here to give you information of the sentiments of the people, and especially of the sentiments of the Union men of the Convention. I wish to know before we go any further in this matter, for it is of too grave importance to have any doubt of it, whether I am accredited to you in such a way as that what I tell you is worthy of credence.”-Said he, “You come to me introduced as a gentleman of high standing and talent in your State.” Said I, “That is not the point I am on. Do I come to you vouched for as an honest man, who will tell you the truth?” Said he, “You do.” “Then,” said I, “sir, I tell you before God and man, that if there is a gun fired at Sumter this thing is gone. And I wish to say to you, Mr. President, with all the solemnity that I can possibly summon, that if you intend to do anything to settle this matter you must do it promptly. I think another fortnight will be too late. You have the power now to settle it. You have the choice to make, and you have got to make it very soon. You have, I believe, the power to place yourself up by the side of Washington himself, as the savior of your country, or, by taking a different course of policy, to send down your name on the page of history notorious forever as a man so odious to the American people that, rather than submit to his dominations, they would overthrow the best government that God ever allowed to exist. You have the choice to make, and you have, in my judgment, no more than a fortnight to make it in.” that is about as much as I can gather out of the conversation now. I went to Alexandria that night, where I had telegraphed an acceptance of an invitation to make a Union speech, and made a speech to a large audience which, I believe, was the last Union speech made in Virginia before the war; and I went on to Richmond and reported to those gentlemen.
The complete interview can be read at http://southernheritageadvancementpreservationeducation.com/e107_plugins/forum/forum_viewtopic.php?2008125.0#post_2011084