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[396] South the probable action of those “conservatives,” should the Union be constrained to defend itself by force against a slaveholding effort for its disintegration and overthrow. And, whatever may have been the intent of those assembled, it is certain that the sentiments expressed by Messrs. Parker, A. B. Johnson, Seymour, Thayer, etc., and the approving response which they elicited, were hailed by the engineers of Secession as proof positive that they would either not be forcibly opposed at all, or would have no difficulty in overcoming, by the help of their sympathizing friends and allies in the Free States, any resistance to their purpose that might be offered.1 Mr. Roscoe Conkling attests that, when the proceedings of this Convention reached Washington, they were hailed with undisguised exultation by the Secessionists still lingering in the halls of Congress; one of whom said to him triumphantly, “If your President should attempt coercion, he will have more opposition at the North than he can overcome.” 2

The “Peace Conference,” or Congress, so called, was assembled on the unanimous invitation of the Legislature

1 The Albany Argus of Nov. 12, 1860, said:

Should secession from the Union be actually attempted by South Carolina alone, or in connection with other States, it will be a most important question for the present and next Administration, how it shall be treated. Shall it be met by force? Shall the military power of the Government be employed to retain seceding States within the Union, and compel them to yield obedience to the requirements of the Constitution? Waiving, in what we now have to say, all question about the right of secession, we believe that, as a matter of practical administration, neither Mr. Buchanan nor Mr. Lincoln will employ force against the seceding States. If South Carolina, or any other State, through a convention of her people, shall formally separate herself from the Union, probably both the present and the next Executive will simply let her alone, and quietly allow all the functions of the Federal Government within her limits to be suspended. Any other course would be madness; as it would at once enlist all the Southern States in the controversy, and plunge the whole country into a civil war. The first gun fired in the way of forcing a seceding State back to her allegiance to the Union, would probably prove the knell of its final dismemberment. As a matter of policy and wisdom, therefore, independent of the question of right, we should deem resort to force most disastrous.

2 The New York Herald of November 9th--the third day after that of the Presidential election — in its leading editorial, had said:

For far less than this [the election of Lincoln], our fathers seceded from Great Britain; and they left revolution organized in every State, to act whenever it is demanded by public opinion. The confederation is held together only by public opinion. Each State is organized as a complete government, holding the purse and wielding the sword, possessing the right to break the tie of the confederation as a nation might break a treaty, and repel coercion as a nation might repel invasion. * * * Coercion, if it were possible, is out of the question.

The Charleston Courier of November, 1860, announced the formation of Military organizations in various parts of the North in defense of “Southern rights.” Allentown, Pa., was specified as one of the points at which such forces were mustering and drilling.

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