previous next
[359] we remember how we felt, when Adams was defeated; and Clay, and Scott, and Fremont. It is decidedly pleasanter to be on the winning side, especially when — as now — it happens also to be the right side.

We sympathize with the afflicted; but we cannot recommend them to do any thing desperate. What is the use? They are beaten now; they may triumph next time: in fact, they have generally had their own way: had they been subjected to the discipline of adversity so often as we have, they would probably bear it with more philosophy, and deport themselves more befittingly. We live to learn: and one of the most difficult acquirements is that of meeting reverses with graceful fortitude.

The telegraph informs us that most of the Cotton States are meditating a withdrawal from the Union, because of Lincoln's election. Very well: they have a right to meditate, and meditation is a profitable employment of leisure. We have a chronic, invincible disbelief in Disunion as a remedy for either Northern or Southern grievances. We cannot see any necessary connection between the alleged disease and this ultraheroic remedy; still, we say, if any one sees fit to meditate Disunion, let him do so unmolested. That was a base and hypocritic row that was once raised, at Southern dictation, about the ears of John Quincy Adams, because he presented a petition for the disolution of the Union. The petitioner had a right to make the request; it was the Member's duty to present it. And now, if the Cotton States consider the value of the Union debatable, we maintain their perfect right to discuss it. Nay: we hold, with Jefferson, to the inalienable right of communities to alter or abolish forms of government that have become oppressive or injurious; and, if the Cotton States shall decide that they can do better out of the Union than in it, we insist on lettering them go in peace. The right to secede may be a revolutionary one, but it exists nevertheless; and we do not see how one party can have a right to do what another party has a right to prevent. 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.

But, while we thus uphold the practical liberty, if not the abstract right, of secession, we must insist that the step be taken, if it ever shall be, with the deliberation and gravity befitting so momentous an issue. Let ample time be given for reflection; let the subject be fully canvassed before the people; and let a popular vote be taken in every case, before Secession is decreed. Let the people be told just why they are asked to break up the confederation; let them have both sides of the question fully presented; let them reflect, deliberate, then vote; and let the act of Secession be the echo of an unmistakable popular fiat. A judgment thus rendered, a demand for separation so 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.

The measures now being inaugurated in the Cotton States, with a view (apparently) to Secession, seem to us destitute of gravity and legitimate force. They bear the unmistakable impress of haste — of passion — of distrust of the popular judgment. They seem clearly intended to precipitate the South into rebellion before the baselessness of the clamors which have misled and excited her, can be ascertained by the great body of her people. We trust that they will be confronted with calmness, with dignity, and with unwavering trust in the inherent strength of the Union, and the loyalty of the American people.

Several other Republican journals, the including some of the most influential, held similar language, and maintained a position not unlike that of The Tribune None of them countenanced the right of a State to secede from the Union, or regarded it as more defensible than the right of a stave to secede from the cask which it helps to form; nor did they regard the effervescence now exhibited at the South as demonstrating a real desire on the part of her people to break up the Union. But they said impressively to that people: “Be calm; let us be heard; allow time for deliberation and the removal of prejudice; unite with us in calling a Convention of the States and People; and, if that Convention shall be unable to agree on such amendments to the Constitution as shall remove existing discontent, and your people shall still, with any approach to ”

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Quincy Adams (2)
Dred Scott (1)
Abraham Lincoln (1)
Thomas Jefferson (1)
John C. Fremont (1)
Henry Clay (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: