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[451] a war, or to sink gradually but surely out of existence beneath a general appreciation of weakness, insecurity, and intolerable burdens, was the only choice left to the plotters and upholders of Secession.

And, though signally beaten in the recent elections of the non-seceded Slave States, they had yet a very strong party in most of those States--stronger in wealth, in social standing, and in political activity and influence, than in numbers. A majority of these had been able to bring the Conventions or the Legislatures of their respective States to say, with tolerable unanimity, “If the Black Republicans attempt to coerce the seceded States, we will join them in armed resistance.” It was indispensable, therefore, to their mutual purposes, that there should be “ coercion.”

So late as April 4th--a month after the return of her ‘Commissioners’ from the abortive Peace Conference--Virginia, through her Convention, by the decisive vote of 89 to 45, refused to pass an Ordinance of Secession. Still, her conspirators worked on, like those of the other “Border States,” and claimed, not without plausible grounds, that they were making headway. Richmond was the focus of their intrigues, as it was of her Slave-trade; but it was boasted that, whereas two of her three delegates to the Convention were chosen as Unionists, she would now give a decided majority for Secession. The Richmond Whig,1 the time-honored organ of her Whig “Conservatives,”

1 The Richmond Whig of November 9, 1860, had the following:

Because the Union was created by the voluntary consent of the original States, it does not follow that such consent can be withdrawn at will by any single party to the compact, and its obligations and duties, its burdens and demands, be avoided. A government resting on such a basis would be as unstable as the ever-shifting sands. The sport of every popular excitement, the victim of every conflicting interest, of plotting ambition or momentary impulse, it would afford no guarantee of perpetuity, while the hours bring round the circuit of a single year. To suppose that a single State could withdraw at will, is to brand the statesmen of the Revolution, convinced of the weakness and certain destruction of the old Confederation of States, of laboring to perpetuate the evil they attempted to remedy. The work, which has been the marvel of the world, would be no government at all; the oaths taken to support and maintain it would be bitter mockery of serious obligations; and nothing would exist to invite the confidence of citizens or strangers in its protection.

Less strong would it be than a business partnership of limited time. From this, neither party who has entered into it can escape, except by due course of law. Withdrawal of one member carries no rights of possession of property or control of the affairs of the partnership, unless the injunctions of legal tribunals are invoked to restrain all action until the matter in dispute is settled. A State seceding knows no law to maintain its interest nor vindicate its rights. The right to secede, on the other hand, places the Government more at the mercy of popular whim than the business interest of the least mercantile establishment in the country is placed, by the law of the land.

Such were the just and forcibly stated convictions of a leading journal, which soon after became, and has since remained, a noisy oracle of Secession.

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