Doc. 110.-a protest from South Carolina. A letter from L. W. Spratt.
This letter was published in the Charleston Mercury on the 13th of February, and copied into the National Intelligencer on the 19th, with the following remarks: the philosophy of secession.--We surrender a considerable portion of our paper to the reproduction of a letter addressed by the Hon. L. W. Spratt, of South Carolina, to the Hon. Mr. Perkins, of Louisiana, in criticism on the Provisional Constitution recently adopted by the Southern Congress at Montgomery, Alabama. In giving so large a space to such a document we are governed by the same considerations which have hitherto induced us to publish so largely the proceedings of the Conventions held in South Carolina and elsewhere — a desire to place conspicuously before our readers in the South (from whom the Intelligencer receives much the larger portion of that generous patronage with which it has so long been honored) a clear and comprehensive statement of the grounds on which the secession movement has been based by its advoccates. If any “Union man” at the South may have been tempted to doubt the propriety of giving so much space as we have awarded to such exciting developments of public disaffection, at a time when the air seemed full of political infection, we have only to say that the chronicle belonged to the current history of the times, and was demanded of us as impartial public journalists. If, on the other hand, any of our subscribers, in their zeal for a cause assuming to represent “Southern rights,” may have dissented from the course we have pursued in opposing, as we have felt it our duty to do, the whole theory and policy of secession, as now urged upon the acceptance of the Southern people, they will at least do us the justice to admit that if that cause has not been sufficiently vindicated in other than our editorial columns, it must be because its peculiar champions have been unable to substantiate its high pretensions, with all the advantages given them in the prominence assigned to discussions and proceedings which were suited to attract by their novelty, to allure by their boldness, and to captivate by the sectional sensibilities upon which they sought to play. In giving to-day the elaborate paper of Mr. Spratt, we need not say that we entirely dissent from the political philosophy which he inculcates in the name and on behalf of the secession movement. Yet the prominent part he has taken in the steps by which that movement was initiated, the confidence bestowed upon him by the people of Charleston in electing him, with such unanimity, to a seat in the South Carolina Convention, and the marked honor conferred upon him by that Convention in deputing him as one of the commissioners appointed to interpret the action of the Palmetto State before the Convention of Florida, (the first which met after that of South Carolina,) are all so many titles by which he may assume to speak with authority in expounding the purport and bearing of the civil revolution to which he has so largely contributed. It will be seen that Mr. Spratt distinctly and unequivocally heralds a new crusade for the “emancipation of the South,” if the features engrafted on the Provisional Constitution framed at Montgomery should be so far incorporated in the permanent organic law of the new Confederation as to fix a “stigma” on slavery by prohibiting the foreign slave trade. Writing to his correspondent, (who, we may add, is a leading member of the Southern Congress from the State of Louisiana,) he proclaims that it was the great object of the movement which has resulted in the disruption of the Union in the Gulf States, to protect the system of slavery in those States, as well in its internal as external relations, from the antagonism of free society; and to this end the revival of the foreign slave trade is seen to be necessary. He contends that in order to realize the normal  state of “slave society” the number of the slaves should at least be equal to the number of the freemen; for where the latter are in excess, he holds that the conditions of an “irrepressible conflict” and of the consequent subordination of slavery are inevitable. It being indispensable, according to Mr. Spratt, that every form of handicraft labor in the true Slave States should be performed by slaves, he deprecates the introduction of white mechanics into Charleston as a calamity threatening the peace of the city. At present he thinks that South Carolina more nearly than any other State--much more so than Virginia — is in a condition to illustrate the conservative tendency of slavery, as to-day there is in South Carolina no “appeal to the mass, because there is no mass to appeal to; there are no demagogues, because there is no populace to breed them.” But this happy state of things may be broken up if slavery be not promptly strengthened by the reopening of the slave trade, as it is foreseen that white laborers will come in to fill up the gap left by a paucity of slaves; and such white laborers, adds Mr. Spratt, “will question the right of masters to employ their slaves in any work that they may wish for; they will use the elective franchise to that end; they may acquire the power to determine our municipal elections, and they will inexorably use it; and thus this town of Charleston, at the very heart of slavery, may become the fortress of democratic power against it.” With such theories lying at the basis of the agitation which has culminated in a dissolution of the Union, it was but natural that its originators should exclaim, in the presence of the temporary prohibitions laid on the foreign slave trade by the Congress at Montgomery, that if this interdict “be carried into the permanent Government our whole movement is defeated. It will abolitionize the Border States--it will brand our institution. Slavery cannot share a Government with democracy; it cannot bear a brand upon it; thence another revolution. It may be painful, but we must make it. The Constitution cannot be changed without it. It is doubtful if another movement will be so peaceful; but no matter; no power but the Convention can avert the necessity.” To similar purport Mr. Spratt proclaims in another part of his letter, “that slavery, as sent forth by the Southern Congress, like the Thracian horse returning from the field of victory, still bears a master on his back, and, having achieved one revolution to escape democracy at the North, it must still achieve another to escape it at the South.” And it will be seen that more than once he very significantly intimates a doubt whether this latter victory, if a contest is made necessary by a prohibition laid on the slave trade, will be as peaceful as that which has been only partially won over the remoter enemy at the North. In a word, if the revival of the slave trade be not now peacefully conceded, the members of the Southern Confederacy have in reserve for their people another revolution in which the combatants on both sides shall be of their own household. And the man who prefigures this conflict is one whose warning should not pass unheeded, because he is one who knows how revolutions are made, because knowing from what source the pending revolution has derived its motive power, and the attainment of what ends it has sought under the conduct of its originators. These, if balked of their purpose for the present, will, he assures us, only have to begin at once a new agitation, destined to endure until at last slavery shall “stand serene, erect, aloft, unquestioned as to its rights or its integrity, at some point within the present limits of the Southern States.” “And such being the case,” adds Mr. Spratt, “it is only for the present actors to determine whether they will contribute or be crushed to that result.” Who can wonder that the people of the Border Slaveholding States, with their wellknown repugnance to the revival of the slave trade, should look with other than feelings of distrust and misgiving on a movement which, in its rudiments, was known to have been so largely controlled by men of like ideas with Mr. Spratt, and whose ultimate, inevitable tendencies are now only the more clearly expressed because of a temporary check which it is feared that movement has received within its own circle of revolution?--National Intelligencer, February 19.