Page:Southern Historical Society Papers volume 01.djvu/462
Southern Historical Society Papers.
ritated. Our plan should be, by some artifice, to provoke them to seem to strike the first blow. Then we shall have a pretext with which to unite the now divided North, and make them fly to arms. The Southerners are a braggart, but a cowardly and effeminate set of bullies; we shall easily whip them in three months. But this short war will be, if we are wise, our sufficient occasion. We will use it to destroy slavery, and thus permanently cripple the South. And that is the stronghold of all these ideas of 'limited government' and 'rights of the people.' Crush the South, by abolishing slavery, and we shall have all we want—a consolidated-government, an indefinite party ascendancy, and ability to lay on such tariffs and taxes as we please, and aggrandize ourselves and our section!"
These, Mr. Seward's apologist declared to me, were the reasons which, together with their predictions and threats of popular rage, converted Lincoln from the policy of Seward to that of Stevens. Hence the former was compelled to break his promise through Judge Campbell, and to assist in the malignant stratagem by which the South Carolinians were constrained "to fire on the flag." The diabolical success of the artifice is well known.
The importance of this narrative is, that it unmasks the true authors and nature of the bloody war through which we have passed. We see that the Radicals provoked it, not to preserve, but to destroy the Union. It demonstrates, effectually, that Virginia and the border States were acting with better faith to preserve the Union than was Lincoln's Cabinet. Colonel Baldwin showed him conclusively that it was not free-soil, evil as that was, which really endangered the Union, but coercion. He showed him that, if coercion were relinquished, Virginia and the border States stood pledged to labor with him for the restoration of Union, and would assuredly be able to effect it. Eight slave-holding border States, with seventeen hireling States, would certainly have wielded sufficient moral and material weight, in the cause of what Lincoln professed to believe the clear truth and right, to reassure and win back the seven little seceded States, or, if they became hostile, to restrain them. But coercion arraigned fifteen against seventeen in mutually destructive war. Lincoln acknowledged the conclusiveness of his reasoning in the agony of remorse and perplexity, in the writhings and tearings of hair, of which Colonel Baldwin was witness. But what was the decisive weight that turned the scale against peace, and right, and patriotism? It was the interest of a sectional tariff! His single objection, both to the wise advice of