“Your Highness condescended to be born.”
The people of the United States
had, in an unexceptionably legal and constitutional manner, chosen for their President
an eminently conservative, cautious, moderate citizen, of blameless life and unambitious spirit, born in slaveholding Kentucky
, but now resident in free Illinois
, who held, with Jefferson
and nearly all our Revolutionary sages and patriots, that Human Slavery is an evil which ought not to be diffused and strengthened in this Nineteenth Century of Christian light and love.
Hereupon, the ruling oligarchy in certain States, who had done nothing to prevent, but much, indirectly yet purposely, to secure this result, resolved to rend the Republic
into fragments, tearing their own fragment away from the residue.
What should be done about it?
The natural, obvious answer springs at once to every unquivering lip--“Convince the disturbers that their only safe course is to desist and behave themselves.
They might have had a President who is not a Republican, had they chosen: having done their best to elect one who is
, they must now accept the result they have contributed to insure, until the evolutions of four years shall bring around the opportunity for another, and, if they will, a more acceptable choice.”
Far otherwise was the actual response of the Republic
to her spoiled children, and their most unreasonably factious demonstration.
Instead of treating their outbreak as culpable and flagrant disloyalty, to be rebuked, abandoned, repented, and desisted from, the first impulse from almost every side was to inquire on what terms and by what means they could be mollified, bribed, beseeched, into remaining peaceably in the Union
This was but following in the beaten track.
Vehement threats of secession and dissolution were among the established means whereby an aristocracy of less than one-tenth of the American
people had for sixty years swayed, almost uninterruptedly, the destinies of the Nation.
Why should they not again resort to the expedient which had so often proved effectual?
Why should not the response be substantially the same now as it had hitherto been?
And why should not those whose success furnished the pretext for this treason be charged with the evil, and inculpated as themselves the traitors
Had not, for a generation, the upholding of a rule based on caste, and a denial to the humblest class of all political rights in half the Union
, and of all social and civil, as well as political, rights in another third of it, been commended and glorified as Democracy
Had not every assertion, however broad and general, of the right of each rational being to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” been stigmatized as Sectionalism
Had not a simple adhesion to the policy of Jefferson
and the fathers, as to Slavery in the Territories
, been denounced as Radicalism
, and as “making war on fifteen States?”
Had not ravaging and subjugating foreign lands, with intent to curse them with human bondage, been glorified as “extending the area of Freedom?”
Had not the maintenance of the rights of constitutional majorities, and of the duty of universal submission to the popular will, constitutionally ascertained and declared, been stigmatized