treated by the defenders of the Union
It was a nettle, which, handled timidly, tenderly, was certain to sting the hand that thus toyed with it; the only safety lay in clutching it resolutely and firmly.
Slavery had made the Rebellion
; Slavery coerced the South
into a silence that counterfeited unanimity by howling “ Abolitionist!”
on the track of every one who refused to seem a traitor to his country, and sending its bloodhounds and Thugs to throttle or knife him. An aristocracy of three hundred thousand families, haughty, high-spirited, trained to arms, and accustomed to rule all who approached them, wielding all the resources and governing the conduct not only of Four Millions of Slaves, but of nearly twice that number of free persons, who served the woolly man-owners as merchants, factors, lawyers, doctors, priests, overseers, navigators, mechanics, slave-hunters, etc., etc., never dreaming that they could cherish any opinions but such as the planting aristocracy prescribed, was no contemptible foe. So long as their slaves should remain obedient to their orders and docile to their will, knowing nothing but what they were told, and hoping for nothing beyond their daily rations of corn and pork, a community of Twelve Millions, holding an area of nearly One Million square miles — the governing caste conscripting the Poor Whites
to fill its armies, and using the labor of the slaves to feed and clothe them — presented to its foes on every side a front of steel and flame.
Only by penetrating and disintegrating their phalanx, so that its parts should no longer support each other, but their enforced cohesion give place to their natural antagonism, could its power be broken and its persistence overborne.
And here it may be instructive to note that the paramount loyalty to his State
, vaunted by the Southron as the keystone of his political arch, always resolved itself, on a searching analysis, into devotion to Slavery.
Thus, when Virginia
seceded, we have seen Alex. H. H. Stuart
, with other eminent “conservatives,” who had, up to this point, resisted Disunion, now take ground in its favor; while Magoffin
, C. F. Jackson
, etc., always insisted that it was to his State
that each citizen owed his first and highest duty.
A favored officer in our regular army transmitted his resignation, to be tendered in case his State
seceded, and was not cashiered therefor, as he should have been promptly and finally.
All over the South
, men said, “This Secession is madness — it will ruin all concerned — I have resisted it to the best of my ability — but my State
has seceded nevertheless, and I must go with my State
But, on the other hand, Sterling Price
, Humphrey Marshall
, James B. Clay
, Richard Hawes
, Simon B. Buckner
, William Preston
, Charles S. Morehead
, and scores like them — in good part old Whigs, who could not help knowing better — never seemed to imagine that the refusal
of their respective States to secede laid them under the smallest obligation to restrain their traitorous propensities.
“ State Sovereignty” was potent only to authorize and excuse treason to the Union
--never to restrain or prevent it.
The Southern leaders entered upon their great struggle with the Union
under the impression — which, with the more sanguine, amounted