Confederate Military History/Volume 7/Alabama Chapter 2
SECESSION AND ITS CAUSES—THE SLAVERY QUESTION —ALABAMA'S DECLARATION PRIOR TO THE NOMINATION OP LINCOLN—THE CHARLESTON CONVENTION—RESULT OP THE ELECTION—HOPE OP PEACEABLE SECESSION— EXPRESSIONS OP ADAMS AND WEBSTER—GREELEY OPPOSED TO COERCION.
THREE decades and a half of years, the life of a generation, have passed since the close of the military career of the actors in that long and sanguinary struggle, the war of the Confederacy. Few comparatively are left of the hosts who fought under Lee and Jackson, the Johnstons and Bragg. Still, many of those from Alabama are yet living and hold positions of trust and honor, continuing to serve the State for which they fought. To form any idea of the motives which then actuated them and the causes which precipitated the war, we must cast aside our environments of to-day, and looking backward find a point where we can stand face to face with the issues that confronted the statesmen of 1860.
The prosperity of the South depended very largely upon the labor which constituted a great part of its wealth, most of which had been imported from Africa in New England ships and sold by New Englanders to people of the South. The Constitution of the United States guaranteed that all the power of the government should be exercised to protect and secure the people in the use and enjoyment of this property, but for more than a third of a century this valued constitutional right had been assailed by a party in the North that had gradually gathered to itself strength and power, one encroachment and violation of law following another. People throughout the South were confronted with this situation. The most of the Northern States had by solemn enactment nullified the Constitution and the laws of Congress, and emissaries from the North, arousing the negroes to arson, rapine and murder, were being dispatched to the Southern States. Their partial success in the John Brown raid had caused widespread terror and alarm. The prevailing sentiment on every side was that prompt action was essential to protect lives and property. As early as 1848 this aggression on the rights of the South had become such a menace that John C. Calhoun contended that we ought to "force the issue of the slavery question in the North;" and said, moreover, "We are now stronger, relatively, than we shall be hereafter politically and morally."
The Democratic party of Alabama assembled in convention at Montgomery, January 11, 1860, and with scarcely a dissenting voice adopted resolutions in substance as follows : "That the principles recognized by the Supreme court in the Dred Scott case should be maintained by the South; that their delegates to the approaching national Democratic convention at Charleston should present these resolutions for the adoption of that body; that they insist upon the adoption of the resolutions in substance, and that if they be not adopted, the delegates must withdraw."
The Alabama legislature, on February 24, 1860, adopted the following:
Whereas, Anti-slavery agitation persistently continued in the non-slaveholding States of this Union for more than a third of a century, marked at every stage of its progress by contempt for the obligations of law and the sanctity of compacts, evincing a deadly hostility to the rights and institutions of the Southern people, and a settled purpose to effect their overthrow even by the subversion of the Constitution, and at the hazard of violence and bloodshed; and, Whereas, a sectional party calling itself Republican, committed alike by its own acts and antecedents, and the public avowals and secret machinations of its leaders to the execution of these atrocious designs, has acquired the ascedency in nearly every Northern State, and hopes by success in the approaching presidential election to seize the government itself; and, Whereas, to permit such seizure by those whose unmistakable aim is to pervert its whole machinery to the destruction of a portion of its members would be an act of suicidal folly and madness, almost without a parallel in history; and, Whereas, the General Assembly of Alabama, representing a people loyally devoted to the Union of the Constitution, but scorning the Union which fanaticism would erect upon its ruins, deem it their solemn duty to provide in advance the means by which they may escape such peril and dishonor, and devise new securities for perpetuating the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, therefore.
Be it resolved, That, upon the happening of the contingency contemplated in the foregoing preamble, namely, the election of a President advocating the principles and action of the party in the Northern States, calling itself the Republican party, it shall be the duty of the governor, and he is hereby required, forthwith, to issue his proclamation, calling upon the qualified voters of this State . . . to elect delegates to a convention of the State, to consider, determine and do whatever in the opinion of said convention, the rights, interests, and honor of the State of Alabama requires to be done for their protection.
The national Democratic convention met at Charleston, April 23, 1860. On the 27th the committee on resolutions disagreed. The majority report accepted the Cincinnati platform with a clause added which explained the doctrine of non-intervention as laid down in the decision of the Supreme court which was delivered by Chief-Justice Taney in the Dred Scott case. This was satisfactory to the Southern delegates. The minority report reaffirmed the Cincinnati platform and then proceeded to assert that "differences of opinion exist in the Democratic party as to the nature and extent of the powers of a territorial legislature and as to the powers and duties of Congress, under the Constitution of the United States, over the institution of slavery in the Territories."
The objections of the Southern delegates to this vague expression in the minority report were explained by Mr. Yancey in a speech in opposition to its adoption. After reviewing the situation he said:
Gentlemen of the convention, that venerable, that able, that revered jurist, the Honorable Chief Justice of the United States, trembling upon the very verge of the grave, for years kept merely alive by the pure spirit of patriotic duty that burns within his breast — a spirit that will not permit him to succumb to the gnawings of disease and the weaknesses of mortality — which hold him, as it were, suspended between two worlds, with his spotless ermine around him, standing at the altar of Justice, has given to us the utterance of the Supreme court of the United States upon this very question. (Applause.)
Let the murmur of the hustings be stilled — let the voices of individual citizens, no matter how great and respected in their appropriate spheres, be hushed, while the law, as expounded by the constituted authority of the country, emotionless, passionless and just, rolls with its silvery cadence over the entire realm, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, and from the ice-bound regions of the North to the glittering waters of the Gulf. (Loud cheering.)
What says that decision? That decision tells you, gentlemen, that the territorial legislature has no power to interfere with the rights of the slave-owner in the territory while in a territorial condition. (Cheers.) That decision tells that this government is a Union of Sovereign States; which States are co-equal, and in trust for which co-equal States the government holds the territories. It tells you that the people of those co-equal States have a right to go into these territories, thus held in trust, with every species of property which is recognized as property by the State in which they live, or by the Constitution of the United States. The venerable magistrate — the court concurring with him — decided that it is the duty of this government to afford some government for the territories which shall be in accordance with this trust, with this delegated trust power held for the States and for the people of the States. That decision goes still further: It tells you that if Congress has seen fit, for its own convenience and somewhat in accordance with the sympathies and instincts and genius of our institutions, to accord a form of government to the people of the territories, it is to be administered precisely as Congress can administer it, and to be administered as a trust for the co-equal States of the Union, and the citizens of those States who choose to emigrate to those territories. That decision goes on to tell you this: That as Congress itself is bound to protect the property which is recognized as such of the citizens of any of the States — as Congress itself not only has on power, but is expressly forbidden to exercise the power to deprive any owner of his property in the territories; therefore, says that venerable, that passionless representative of justice, who yet hovers on the confines of the grave, therefore, no government formed by that Congress can have any more power than the Congress that created it.
Mr. Yancey then went on to explain that Mr. Douglas and his followers insisted upon a construction which virtually nullified the Dred Scott decision. He said:
They put themselves directly in conflict with the venerable chief justice of the Supreme court of the United States, and with the recorded decision of the court itself. . . . Now then, who shall the Democracy recognize as authority on this point — a statesman, no matter how brilliant and able and powerful in intellect, in the very meridian of life, animated by an ardent and consuming ambition, struggling as no other man has ever done for the high and brilliant position of candidate for the presidency of the United States, at the hand of his great party — or that old and venerable jurist who, having filled his years with honor, leaves you his last great decision before stepping from the high place of earthly power into the grave to appear before his Maker, in whose presence deception is impossible and earthly position as dust in the balance? (Loud and continued cheering.)
Notwithstanding this eloquent appeal, the vote was taken and by a bare majority the minority report was substituted for the majority report. This was the signal for disruption. The Alabama delegation withdrew from the convention, followed by those of the other Gulf States. On May 19th a convention met at Baltimore under the name of the "Constitutional Union party" (its motto be-ing, "The Constitution, the Union and the Enforcement of the Laws"). John Bell, of Tennessee, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, were nominated as its candidates for President and Vice-President.
On June 18th, the Douglas members of the Charleston convention met in Baltimore, and the supporters of the majority report who had withdrawn at Charleston assembled at Richmond, afterward adjourning to meet at Baltimore. They were not, however, admitted to that convention, as the Douglas members excluded them from participation in its proceedings, seating in their stead new delegates who came pledged to support Mr. Douglas, who was nominated by this convention. Upon the exclusion of the old delegates, Mr. Cushing, the president of the convention and five others of the Massachusetts delegates, together with delegates from Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Maryland, California, Oregon and Arkansas, the only Democratic States, withdrew to join them. Having organized under the title of the "National State Rights Democracy" and adopted the now famous "majority report" from Charleston, John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, was nominated. Mr. Lincoln having been the choice of the Republican convention at Chicago in May, the campaign opened with four presidential candidates in the field.
The vote for President of the United States on November 6, 1860, was:
Abraham Lincoln........................................ 1,866,352
Stephen A. Douglas................................... 1,375,157
John C. Breckinridge..................................... 845,581
John Bell........................................................ 589,581
The vote in the Southern slave States:
Abraham Lincoln........................................ 26,430
Stephen A. Douglas................................... 163,525
John C. Breckinridge..................................... 543,781
John Bell ........................................................ 488,923
The vote in the Gulf States:
Abraham Lincoln........................................ ......
Stephen A. Douglas................................... 24,926
John C. Breckinridge..................................... 168,400
John Bell ........................................................ 94,444
The vote in Alabama:
Abraham Lincoln........................................ ......
Stephen A. Douglas................................... 13,651
John C. Breckinridge..................................... 48,831
John Bell ........................................................ 27,325
When on that fateful 6th of November, 1860, it was decided by the election of Mr. Lincoln that Black Republican rule was to dominate the Union and crush the South under with its compromising cruelty. The North and the South both knew that the election of Lincoln meant the destruction of slavery, to be so accomplished as to bring financial ruin, if not entire annihilation; for Wendell Phillips had said: "This state of things is just what we have attempted to bring about . . . The Republican party is a party of the North, pledged against the South."
Believing firmly in the sovereignty of the State, there was never an idea among the masses of the people of the South that secession would entail war. A few of the prominent leaders and profound thinkers foresaw the consequences, still peaceable secession was the thought uppermost. Coercion, "vi et armis," was not dreamed of; and these ideas were not confined to the Southern people. The opinion had always prevailed throughout the Union that secession was a right vested in each separate State, and that an attempt to coerce a sovereign State would be unwarrantable and unconstitutional. John Quincy Adams but gave expression to this universal sentiment when in a speech delivered April 30, 1839, on the occasion of the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of our government under the Constitution, he said:
But the indissoluble union between the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the right but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert it) when the affections of the people of these States shall be alienated from each other; when the fraternal spirit shall give way to cold indifference, or collision of interest shall fester into hatred, the bands of political asseveration will not long hold together parties no longer attracted by the magnetism of conciliated interests and kindly sympathies; and far better will it be for the people of the disunited States to part in friendship from each other than to be held together by constraint. Then will be the time for reverting to the precedents which occurred at the formation and adoption of the Constitution to form again a more perfect Union by dissolving that which could no longer bind, and to leave the separated parts to be reunited by the law of political gravitation to the center.
It is a remarkable fact that in 1848 the distinguished son of this illustrious gentleman received 291,267 votes as candidate of the Free Soil party for the vice-presidency.
This principle of the right of secession had been always sanctioned by the people of Massachusetts. When it was proposed to annex Louisiana to the Federal Union, the legislature passed the following resolution: "That the annexation of Louisiana to the Union transcends the constitutional power of the government of the United States. It formed a new confederacy, to which the States united by the former compact are not bound to adhere." In the year 1844 it was resolved by that legislature: ". . . That the project of the annexation of Texas, unless arrested on the threshold, may drive these States into a dissolution of the Union."
The opinion of the conservative element in the North, that this agitation was an invasion of the constitutional rights of the South, was expressed by that grand old constitutional lawyer, Daniel Webster. In a speech at Buffalo, delivered on May 22, 1851, he said:
Then there . . . was the fugitive slave law. Let me say a word about that. Under the provisions of the Constitution, during Washington's administration in the year 1793, there was passed by general consent a law for the restoration of fugitive slaves. Hardly any one opposed it at that period; it was thought to be necessary in order to carry the Constitution into effect; the great men of New England and New York all concurred in it. It passed and answered all the purposes expected from it till about the year 1841 or 1842, when the State interfered to make enactments in opposition to it. . . . Now, I undertake as a lawyer and on my professional character to say to you and to all, that the law of 1850 is decidedly more favorable to the fugitive than General Washington's law of 1793. . . . Such is the present law, and, much op-posed and maligned as it is, it is more favorable to the fugitive slave than the law enacted during Washington's administration in 1793, which was sanctioned by the North as well as by the South. The present violent opposition has sprung up in modem times. Prom whom does this clamor come? Why, look at the proceedings of the anti-slavery conventions; look at their resolutions. Do you find among those persons who oppose this fugitive slave law any admission whatever that any law ought to be passed to carry into effect the solemn stipulations of the Constitution? Tell me any such case. Tell me if any resolution was adopted by the convention at Syracuse favorable to the carrying out of the Constitution. Not one. The fact is, gentlemen, they oppose the constitutional provision; they oppose the whole. Not a man of them admits that there ought to be any law on the subject. They deny altogether that the provisions of the Constitution ought to be carried into effect. Look at the proceedings of the anti-slavery conventions in Ohio, Massachusetts and at Syracuse in the State of New York. What do they say? That so help them God no colored man shall be sent from the State of New York back to his master in Virginia. Do not they say that? And to the fulfillment of that they pledge their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor. Their sacred honor! They pledge their sacred honor to violate the Constitution; they pledge their sacred honor to commit treason against the laws of their country.
Mr. Webster, in his speech at Capon Springs, also said:
The leading sentiment in the toast from the chair is the Union of the States. What mind can comprehend the consequences of that Union, past, present, and to come. The Union of these States is the all-absorbing topic of the day; on it all men write, speak think, and dilate, from the rising of the sun to the going down thereof. And yet, gentlemen, I fear its importance has been but insufficiently appreciated.
[Again Mr. Webster says:] How absurd it is to suppose that when different parties enter into a compact for certain purposes, either can disregard any one provision, and expect, nevertheless, the other to observe the rest. I intend for one to regard and maintain and carry out to the fullest extent the Constitution of the United States, which I have sworn to support in all its parts and all its provisions. It is written in the Constitution, "No person held to service or labor in one State under the laws thereof, escaping into another, shall, in consequence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be due."
This is as much a part of the Constitution as any other, and as equally binding and obligatory as any other on all men, public or private. And who denies this? None but the abolitionists of the North. And pray what is it they will not deny? They have but the one idea; and it would seem that these fanatics at the North and the secessionists at the South are putting their heads together to devise means to defeat the good designs of honest, patriotic men. They act to the same end and the same object, and the Constitution has to take the fire from both sides.
I have not hesitated to say, and I repeat, that if the Northern States refuse willfully and deliberately to carry into effect that part of the Constitution which respects the restoration of fugitive slaves, and Congress provide no remedy, the South would no longer be bound to observe the compact. A bargain cannot be broken on one side and still bind the other side. I say to you, gentlemen in Virginia, as I said on the shores of Lake Erie and in the city of Boston, as I may say again in that city or elsewhere in the North, that you of the South have as much right to receive your fugitive slaves as the North has to any of its rights and privileges of navigation and commerce. Mr. Webster also said: I am as ready to fight and to fall for the constitutional rights of Virginia as I am for those of Massachusetts.
Horace Greeley, the noted abolitionist, one of the foster-fathers, if not the parent of free-soilism, perhaps the most widely popular and best informed of the Northern journalists, who must be regarded as an able exponent of the sentiments of the people, was outspoken even to rashness in upholding the doctrine of the right of secession. Indeed his course would seem to prove that he did all in his power to hasten the Southern States into secession. We give extracts from the New York Tribune, Mr. Greeley's paper, beginning with the date when it was first known that Mr. Lincoln was certainly elected.
New York Tribune, November 9, 1860. — If the cotton States shall become satisfied that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on letting them go in peace. The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless. [And again in the same issue of his widely-circulated and influential paper, Mr. Greeley said:] We must ever resist the asserted right of any State to remain in the Union and nullify or defy the laws thereof. To withdraw from the Union is quite another matter; and whenever a considerable section of our Union shall deliberately resolve to go out, we shall resist all coercive measures designed to keep it in. We hope never to live in a republic whereof one section is pinned to the residue by bayonets. Let them have both sides of the question fully presented. Let them reflect, deliberate, then vote; and let the action of secession be the echo of an unmistakable popular fiat. A judgment thus rendered, a demand for separation thus backed, would either be acquiesced in without the effusion of blood, or those who rushed upon carnage to defy and defeat it would place themselves clearly in the wrong. New York Tribune, November 16, 1860. — Still we say, in all earnestness and good faith, whenever a whole section of this republic, whether a half, a third, or only a fourth, shall truly desire and demand a separation from the residue, we shall earnestly favor such separation. If the fifteen slave States, or even the eight cotton States alone, shall quietly, decisively, say to the rest, "We prefer to be henceforth separated from you," we shall insist they be permitted to go in peace. War is a hideous necessity at best, and a civil conflict, a war of estranged and embittered fellow countrymen, is the most hideous of all wars. Whenever the people of the cotton States shall have definitely and decisively made up their minds to separate from the rest of us, we shall urge that the proper steps be taken to give full effect to their decision.
New York Tribune, November 19, 1860. — Now we believe and maintain that the Union is to be preserved only so long as it is beneficial and satisfactory to all parties concerned. We do not believe that any man, any neighborhood, town, county or even State may break up the Union in any transient gust of passion ; we fully comprehend that secession is an extreme, an ultimate resort — not a constitutional but a revolutionary remedy. But we insist that this Union shall not be held together by force whenever it shall have ceased to cohere by the mutual attraction of its parts; and whenever the slave States or the cotton States only shall unitedly and coolly say to the rest, "We want to get out of the Union," we shall urge that their request be acceded to."
New York Tribune, November 24, 1860. — Some of the Washington correspondents telegraph that Mr. Buchanan is attempting to map out a middle course in which to steer his bark during the tempest which now howls about him. He is to condemn the asserted right of secession but to assert in the same breath that he is opposed to keeping a State in the Union by what he calls Federal coercion. Now we have no desire to prevent secession by coercion, but we hold this position to be utterly unsupported by law or reason.
New York Tribune, November 30,1860. — Are We Going to Fight?—But if the cotton States generally unite with her in seceding, we insist that they cannot be prevented, and that the attempt must not be made. Five millions of people, more than half of them of the dominant race of whom at least half a million are able and willing to shoulder muskets, can never be subdued while fighting around and over their own hearthstones. If they could be, they would no longer be equal members of the Union, but conquered dependencies. . . . We propose to wrest this potent engine from the disunionists by saying frankly to the slave States: "If you choose to leave the Union, leave it, but let us have no quarrel about it. If you think it a curse to you and an unfair advantage to us, repudiate it, and see if you are not mistaken. If you are better by yourselves, go and God speed you. For our part, we have done very well with you, and are quite willing to keep along with you, but if the association is irksome to you, we have too much self-respect to insist on its continuance. We have lived by our industry thus far and hope to do so still, even though you leave us." We repeat that only the sheen of Northern bayonets can bind the South wholly to the evils of secession, but that may do it. Let us be patient, neither speaking daggers nor using them, standing to our principles but not to our arms, and all will yet be well.
New York Tribune, December 8, 1860. — . . . We again avow our deliberate conviction that whenever six or eight contiguous States shall have formally seceded from the Union, and avowed the pretty unanimous and earnest resolve of their people to stay out, it will not be found practicable to coerce them into subjection; and we doubt that any Congress can be found to direct and provide for such coercion. One or two States may be coerced, but not the entire section, or quarter of a Union. If you do not believe this, wait and see.
New York Tribune, December 17, 1860. — . . . But if ever seven or eight States sent agents to Washington to say, ‘We want to get out of the Union,’ we shall feel constrained by our devotion to human liberty to say, ‘Let them go.' And we do not see how we could take the other side without coming in direct conflict with those rights of man which we hold paramount to all political arrangements, however convenient and advantageous.
New York Tribune, December 24, 1860. — Most certainly we believe that governments are made for the peoples, not peoples for the governments; that the latter derive their just power from the consent of the governed; and whenever a portion of this Union, large enough to form an independent self-subsisting nation, shall show that and say authentically to the residue, "We want to get away from you," I shall say, and we trust self-respect, if not regard for the principles of self-government, will constrain the residue of the American people to say, "Go."
New York Tribune, December 28, 1860. — . . . Nor is it treason for the State to hate the Union and seek its disruption. A State, a whole section, may come to regard the Union as a blight upon its prosperity, an obstacle to its progress, and be fully justified in seeking its dissolution. And in spite of the adverse clamor, we insist that if ever a third or even a fourth of these States shall have deliberately concluded that the Union is injurious to them, and that their vital interests require their separation from it, they will have a perfect right to seek separation; and should they do so with reasonable patience and due regard for the rights and interests of those they leave behind, we shall feel bound to urge and insist that their wishes be gratified — their demand conceded.
During the session of the South Carolina convention, Greeley, in his issue of December 17th, as if to afford arguments to strengthen the Southern people in their opposition and to encourage them to be prompt in their action, says: "If it (the Declaration of Independence) justifies these cession from the British empire of 3,000,000 of colonists in 1776, we do not see why it would not justify the secession of 5,000,000 of Southrons from the Federal Union in 1861. If we are mistaken on this point, why does not some one attempt to show wherein and why? For our own part, while we deny the right of slaveholders to hold slaves against the will of the latter, we cannot see how 20,000,000 of people can rightfully hold 10,000,000, or even 5,000,000 in a detested Union with them by military force."
In the same issue of Mr. Greeley's paper we read the following: "If seven or eight contiguous States shall present themselves authentically at Washington, saying: ‘We hate the Federal Union; we have drawn from it; we give you the choice between acquiescing in our secession and arranging amicably all incidental questions on the one hand and attempting to subdue us on the other,’ we could not stand up for coercion, for subjugation, for we do not think it would be just. We hold the right of self- government even when invoked in behalf of those who deny it to others. So much for the question of principle."
After the Confederate government had been organized and its whole machinery in active operation and it had taken its place among the nations, Mr. Greeley endorsed its action in no ambiguous words. He said: "We have repeatedly said, and we once more insist, that the great principle embodied by Jefferson in the Declaration of American Independence, that 'Governments derive their just powers from consent of the governed, ’ is sound and just; and that if the slave States, the cotton States or the Gulf States only, choose to form an independent nation, they have a clear moral right to do so. Whenever it shall be clear that the great body of Southern people have become conclusively alienated from the Union, and anxious to escape from it, we will do our best to forward their views."
Nor was the New York Tribune alone, for the whole New York press and prominent journals and able editors of Republican papers all over the North coincided with these views. "Wayward sisters, go in peace," was the cry on every hand, echoed from the lips of the general of the army, with the refrain uttered by the eminent Republican leader, Salmon P. Chase: "The South is not worth fighting for; let them alone."
I give a few quotations from some of the other leading journals. Did space allow, these might be multiplied almost ad infinitum.
From the New York Herald, November 23, 1860. — The Disunion Question —A Conservative Reaction in the South.—We publish this morning a significant letter from Governor Letcher, of Virginia, on the subject of the present disunion excitement in the South, Southern constitutional rights, Northern State acts of nullification, and the position of Virginia in this crisis. . . . To this end would it not be well for the conservative Union men of the city of New York to make a demonstration — a Northern movement of conciliation, concession and harmony? Coercion in any event is out of the question. A Union held together by the bayonet would be nothing better than a military despotism. Conciliation and harmony, through mutual Concessions, in a reconstruction of the fundamental law, between the North and South, will restore and perpetuate the Union contemplated by the fathers. So now that the conservative men of the South are moving, let the Union men of the North second their endeavors, and let New York, as in the matter of the com- promises of 1850, lead the way.
The following is from the New York Times of December 3, 1860: By common consent, moreover, the most prominent and tangible point of offense seems to be the legislation growing out of the fugitive slave law. Several of the Northern States have passed personal-liberty bills with the alleged intent to prevent the return of fugitive slaves to their masters. From Union men in every quarter of the South come up the most earnest appeals to the Northern States to repeal these laws. Such an act, we are assured, would have a powerful effect in disarming the disunion clamor in nearly all the Southern States and in promoting the prospects of a peaceful adjustment of all pending differences.
The next day, December 4th, the New York Times published another article; in which it said: Mr. Weed has stated his opinion of the crisis thus: 1. There is imminent danger of a dissolution of the Union. 2. The danger originated in the ambition and cupidity of men who desire a Southern despotism and in the fanatic zeal of the Northern abolitionists who seek the emancipation of slaves regardless of consequences. 3. The danger can only be averted by such moderation and forbearance as will draw out, strengthen and combine the Union sentiment of the whole country. Each of these statements will command general assent. The only question likely to arise relates to the practical measures by which the 'moderation and forbearance' can be displayed.
After Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated, the Commercial, the leading Republican paper of Ohio, in March, 1861, said: "We are not in favor of blockading the Southern coast. We are not in favor of retaking by force the property of the United States now in possession of the seceders. We would recognize the existence of a government formed of all the slaveholding States and attempt to cultivate amicable relations with it."
I have shown that not only were the Southern people sustained in their actions leading to secession by the conservative element of the North, as voiced in their daily and weekly papers, but they were given to understand that they had nothing to hope for from the party about to assume the views of the government. Judge Chase made a speech before the Peace congress in which he declared unequivocally that the power being theirs, they would assuredly use it. The assaults on the Constitution were to culminate in the overthrow, at least, of its guarantees to the Southern people. Here is what he said:
The result of the national canvass, recently terminated in the election of Mr. Lincoln, has been spoken of by some as the effect of a sudden impulse or of some irregular excitement of the popular mind; and it has been somewhat confidently asserted that, upon reflection and consideration, the hastily formed opinions which brought about that election will be changed. . . . I cannot take this view of the result of the presidential election. I believe, and the belief amounts to absolute conviction, that the election must be regarded as a triumph of principles cherished in the hearts of the people of the free States. . . . We have elected him (Mr. Lincoln). After many years of earnest advocacy and of severe trial we have achieved the triumph of that principle. By a fair and unquestioned majority we have secured that triumph. Do you think we, who represent this majority, will throw it away? Do you think the people will sustain us if we undertake to throw it away? I must speak to you plainly, gentlemen of the South. It is not in my heart to deceive you. I therefore tell you explicitly that if we of the North and West would consent to throw away all that has been gained in the recent triumph of our principles, the people would not sustain us, and so, the consent would avail you nothing. When some of the Northern people, alarmed at the prospect, held meetings and passed resolutions urging concessions to be made, Mr. Lincoln said: "I will suffer death before I will consent or advise my friends to consent to any concession or compromise which looks like buying the privilege of taking possession of the government to which we have a constitutional right." And Horace Greeley used these words to prove to the Southern people that it was useless to expect concessions from the dominant party, and these so-called concessions were matters pending before Congress, all of which were simply efforts to uphold the Constitution. Mr. Lincoln did not attempt to deny that the concessions referred to were right, but gives his refusal to entertain them in these words: "Whatever I might think of the merits of the various propositions before Congress, I should regard any concession in the face of menace as the destruction of the government itself and a consent on all hands that our system shall be brought down to a level with the existing disorganized state of affairs in Mexico."