Doc. 198 1/2.-Bishop Potter's letter to a Secessionist.
Philadelphia, May 13, 1861.My dear Sir:--You “beg me to explain how it is possible that (I) could, under the circumstances, give so much sanction and encouragement to those engaged in this unholy, unprovoked, wanton attempt to destroy us and all that is dear to us.” Your misconception is so radical that I almost despair of correcting it. What you regard as an “attempt to destroy you. and all that is dear to you,” is considered by us as simply an attempt to defend ourselves and the capital of our country from threatened invasion, our Constitution from destruction, and even our Southern brethren from that which is  the surest destruction of themselves and their peculiar institutions. From the secession of South Carolina to the storming of Fort Sumter, the General Government remained all but passive. It then became indispensable that we should know whether it was a Government, whether it could retain its hold of Washington, and whether the whole system that Washington and his compeers inaugurated in 1789 was not a delusion and imposture. This, my dear sir, is the whole story. Your theory not only disregards your own obligations under the Constitution, but it leaves to us no Government except in name — opening the door for perpetual discord and for secession without end. I do not believe that at the North one man in fifty desires an invasion of your soil or the destruction of your social system. They simply desire that you should not break up the Union by your method of leaving it, but refer all subjects of complaint to a Convention of all the States which will be either competent to redress all grievances, or to provide a way in which you can retire from the Union without dissolving the whole fabric of our General Government. Under the present exasperated state of the sections, it is impossible to say to what lengths this conflict may go. But I assure you that in the few lines above, you have the whole animus of the loyal States, and of the Union men everywhere. Only the smallest number of fanatics think or talk of slavery. The whole question is one of self-defence, and of Government or no Government. Yours sincerely,
--Louisville Journal, June 12.