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[159] of gloom and darkness in our country's history, we must not despair, or fold our hands until the chains of despotism shall be fastened upon us, by those conspiring against our liberties. As freemen, who know their rights, and dare defend them, our spirits must rise above the intimidation and violence employed against us; and we must meet and conquer every obstacle these men are attempting to interpose between is and our liberties. If we manfully exert ourselves, we shall succeed. There is a just God who “rides upon the whirlwind and directs the storm.” Let us look to him with abiding confidence.

The fact is no longer disguised that there has been in the South, for many years, a secret organization, laboring with steady perseverance, to overturn the Federal Government, and destroy constitutional liberty in this country. The various Conventions held in that portion of the country, for some years past, ostensibly for other objects, have only been the means of feeling the public pulse to ascertain if there was sufficient disease in the body politic for dissolution. The cry of danger to the institution of Slavery has been a mere pretext to rouse and excite the people. In abandoning the Constitution of the Union, the leaders of the movement must have known that they were greatly weakening the safeguards and protection which were necessary to the existence of that institution.

It has been urged that secession was necessary to protect the slave interest of the South. As a usual thing, those who are interested in a species of property, are the best informed in regard to their own rights, and the most tenacious in maintaining them. Secession has not originated among the large slaveholders of the South, nor has it found among that class its busiest and most ardent advocates. The sections of the country in which the largest slave interests have existed in this State, have heretofore been the most decided in support of the Union. The votes given at the last November and February elections in Eastern and Western Virginia, will slow that the slaveholders themselves considered the safety of their property as dependent upon the maintenance of the Union. Another pertinent fact may be mentioned in this connection. It is that in sections where slaves are numerous, it is always much easier to introduce a system of mob-law and intimidation to control the votes of the people. The constant apprehension of servile insurrection makes the master an easy subject of control in a crisis like the present. Eastern and Western Virginia are illustrations of the truth of this statement.

What affiliations this great conspiracy has had in the Northern States remain yet unknown. The spirit which has been aroused throughout the North, has carried all opposition before it. But the extent of the treasonable plot has not yet been fully developed. Before the designs of the conspirators were made manifest, thousands of good men sympathized with the effort, as they regarded it, of the South to maintain their constitutional rights; but these have all abandoned them when the true purpose was ascertained. If there are any in the North, or in the border States, who still adhere to the conspiracy, they will attempt to aid its object by indirect; means; by opposing and cavilling at the efforts which the Government, in a struggle for existence, may use in its own defence; and by attempting to raise a popular outcry against coercion, and advocating a peaceable separation. A bold stand for secession would scarcely be attempted, but those who sympathize with the leaders of rebellion will seek by covert and indirect means to aid the object of the conspirators.

There is only one question now for each American citizen to decide in this controversy: Do you desire to stand by, and live under the Constitution which has contributed so long and so greatly to the happiness and prosperity of the people, and to transmit its blessings to our posterity? Or, do you desire the Union broken up, and an oligarchy or military depotism established in its stead? The leaders in the South are striving for the latter. The Government of the United States is exerting its whole force to maintain the integrity of the former. There can be no neutral ground. The secession leaders have declared that they desire no compromise, except the unconditional surrender to them of the objects they have been aiming to accomplish, and the consent of the Government to its own destruction. The very proposition of compromise places a false issue before the country. It implies that the Federal Government has committed some great wrong which ought to be remedied, before peace can be restored; when in fact the leaders in the South have controlled the legislation of the country for years, and the laws now in existence were made, or suggested, by themselves, when in power.

The position of Virglnia is a peculiar one at this moment. Last November, at the Presidential election, it gave upwards of sixteen thousand majority for Bell and Douglas, both Union candidates for the presidency. Their principal competitor was loudly proclaimed as also true to the Union; and throughout the canvass, any imputation of favoring disunion was indignantly denied by the advocates of all the candidates. At the election for members of the Convention in February last, there was a majority of over sixty thousand votes given to the Union candidates; and the people, by an equal majority, determined that no act of that Convention should change the relations of the State to the Federal Government, unless ratified by the popular vote. Yet the delegates to that Convention passed the ordinance of secession, and attached the State to the Southern league, called the Confederate States; and to render the step irretrievable, and defeat the whole object of requiring a ratification of the


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