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[341]

The Contagion of Secession.

we are beginning to feel the effects of woful example. The diabolical spirit of Rebellion not only encounters us in the field, but it has entered our legislative chambers, and under the malign promptings of the Democratic party, bent upon rule or ruin, it is tampering with the popular loyalty. One year ago men only murmured treason; but success has opened their mouths and filled their hearts with abominable political devices. We are beginning to see that about the worst battle lost to the Union cause, thus far, is that of the New York State election. Nobody believes Horatio Seymour to be friendly to the Administration, or to feel any honest sympathy with its embarrassments — yet he is elected Governor. The mob in Albany has given us a bitter foretaste of possible anarchy.

From the West we hear of schemes designed by the desperate and disaffected — conspiracies tending to fresh ruptures, and the final overthrow of the Republic. Wicked men, even at the North, are beginning openly and shamelessly to dally with disunion, and propose, since dislocation has come into fashion, to multiply the fragments of our institutions. All this is terrible. We can better afford to lose fifty fights than thus to weaken the morality of our cause. We can better afford to submit to invasion, than thus to make disintegration familiar to our constituencies. We can better afford to let the Slaveholding soldiers bivouac in the capitol, than to be betrayed into negotiations which are full of danger, or to dally with [342] compromises which, with their adoption, must precipitate us into unmitigated anarchy.

Already we begin to hear of Western Confederacies, of New England Confederacies, of Middle States transmogrified into Middle Confederacies. Already we have hints of new and tempting combinations, aiming at safe and convenient boundaries, and the monopoly of internal navigation. Already the coming Congress casts its dark shadow before; and busy as the devil always has been in Washington, a time is coming when he will redouble his activity in that uneasy seat of an endangered Government. Hitherto the restoration of the Union has been, with the mass of the people, a matter of sentiment; but a time is at hand, which will not be in the least poetical, and when we must confront public danger hardened into the most vulgar concrete.

Gentlemen who desire to be elected to Congress, not as patriots, but simply and nakedly as Anti-Republicans, or Anti-Government men, cannot be supposed to care much for the perpetuity of our institutions. They expect to fatten upon our national troubles. They are ghouls who will care little how cold the corpse may be, if, sooner or later, they may fairly get their teeth into it. They live, plot, plan, spout, intrigue, bargain, and scheme, solely for personal aggrandizement. Their loyalty is limited by their own lives, and no thought of the weal or woe of posterity enters into their calculations. If, with the recognition of the Confederacy, these moral traitors could be banished, and with them their whole brood [343] of venal voters — if we could send them to rest in the black bosoms of their Confederate friends — if the honor, worth, religion, intelligence, and wealth of the North could have but a fair chance of exercising their legitimate influence, we might consider with greater coolness the success of the Southern treason. But these men, after the accomplished dismemberment, would remain — would still be with us, though not of us — would be then as they are now, and as they always have been, the ready agents of Slavery, and the paid pimps of the Slaveholding interest.

Establish a State upon the basis of Man-owning upon this continent, and the minds of Wood, Brooks, Seymour, and all that genus will gravitate towards it with all the force of a bad nature. Given these men in power, and the Northern Republic would be the bought, if not the born, thrall of the Davis Dynasty, ready in Cabinet and Congress to do its dirty and demoniac work-ready to catch its runaways — ready to wink at the revival of the African Slave trade — ready to join an alliance against the moral sense of mankind — ready to promote the Secession of the West from the East--ready for war upon New England--ready to make our poor shadow of a Government at Washington as much the tool of the Southern Confederacy as ever the Cabinet of Charles II. was the tool of the French monarch. Political chafferers in the sacred name of Democracy would sell themselves first, and next their neighbors. There would be for us no permanence, no prosperity, no private happiness, and no public greatness. [344]

It may be said that we exaggerate the danger. We do not think so. For the political power of the Confederacy would be in the hands of a few men, who have been educated to detest the Union, and who would be ill satisfied with that partial success which left even a respectable fragment of the old Republic yet entire. Once fairly separated, they would begin to feel wants, the existence of which they do not now admit, and they would be only too ready to avail themselves of those commercial abilities which they have heretofore affected to despise. The great serpent of Slavery would reverse its trail, and look with longing eyes towards a North left at its mercy by the dissensions and disaffection of its own children. Our social freedom would be a perpetual aggravation of the bad temper and jealousy which are the inseparable adjuncts of Slaveholding. If we were prosperous, our prosperity would be a continual rebuke of that sin which has been called “the sum of all villainies;” and if we were hopelessly weakened by the dismemberment, our cities and our farms would be the cheap prey of every mad partisan who chose to promote a raid.

Nor should we be without a hatred of Slavery, intensified by the woes of which it had been the fruitful mother; and any effort to check or to silence the expression of that sentiment would but complicate the public dilemma. We should still have Pro-Slavery governors, Pro-Slavery senators, Pro-Slavery presidents, and Pro-Slavery representatives; and the very existence of a determined and uncompromising [345] opposition would drive them into disgraceful diplomacies and intrigues, not to be thought of without horror! If we speak sharply, we beg the reader to believe that we speak sincerely. We have not, nor will we pretend to have, any confidence in the public virtue of that hungry place-hunter who prates of the wrongs of the South, and of the sins of the North--who has fine words for the Richmond regime, and foul words for his own constitutional rulers — who would restore the Union by muzzling discussion, and by a declaration of the sanctity of Involuntary Servitude, with all the solemnities of an act of public faith — who feels it to be a duty to apologize for his own loyalty and for the treason of the public enemy — who is half this and half that, and not wholly, body, soul and spirit, the honest and unquestioning devotee of the Constitution and the Laws — who wastes that indignation upon the foes of Slavery which he should naturally bestow upon its friends — who is utterly without pity for the poor and defenseless, as he is ignorant of that simple law which makes the prosperity of the employer dependent upon his justice — who is, in short, a creature of shams and subterfuges, and participates in public affairs without one ennobling sentiment, or one benevolent aspiration. Why should this poor hybrid, half monarchist and half Democrat, pretend to any reverence for human rights, or be at all coy about selling others, since he is so ready to sell himself? Let us see to it, that the triumph of the Secessionists does not open for him a market.

January 23, 1863.

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