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[369]

The whole movement towards secession, even in the States most favorable to it, has been artfully promoted by the fabrications of a false opinion. It has been borne along by a whirlwind of contrived excitement. The passions of the people have been inflamed by exaggerated representations of impending dangers; by skilful exhibition of the idle ravings of mad and wicked fanatics as the settled views of the Government; by startling conjunctures preconcerted by the managers to madden the temper and overwhelm the discretion of the populace, and by provoking outbreak and violence as the topics for frantic appeal to the manhood and patriotism of the State. Tho unnecessary bombardment of the starving garrison of Sumter was intended to stimulate the reluctant mind of Virginia to secession. The simultaneous seizures of Gosport Navy Yard and of Harper's Ferry were the arranged stimulants to confirm the wavering resolution of that State. The futile and calamitous attempt to resist the passage of the troops through Maryland was but another spur to quicken the speed of secession, by driving the State against its better judgment into rebellion. The secession enterprise, everywhere, has been remarkably characterized by the signs of a conspiracy to give the minority a command over the majority. It avoids reference to the popular consent, screens its plans from public criticism by secret sessions, and plies the machinery of passion to rush the people into the abyss of revolution, with the renunciation of all thought and forecast of its consequences.

There is something ungenerous, and even worse, in the advantage which the Seceding States have taken of the wise and patriotic sentiment of the Border States against coercion. When these latter States pledged themselves, in the beginning of the rupture, that they would not sanction any attempt of the Government to coerce the Seceders into submission, it was a pledge that the experiment of secession should be allowed to take its allotted course in peace, with the hope that peace would bring calm judgment into action, and, through its influence, an early return to harmony in the Union. Such a pledge implied a counter-pledge of moderation of counsel and honest confidence in the unbiassed judgment of the people, by the Seceding States. It implied that the good sense of the country should be left free to act, with perfect immunity from artificial excitement, on the whole subject wherever it might be brought into debate. Instead of granting this freedom from agitation to the Border States, the secession party of the South, taking advantage of the promise against coercion, has busily employed itself in provoking collision by assault and spreading panic by alarm, and thus stirring the population of the Border into sudden revolt against the Government. They contrive a necessity for coercion, and then call on the Border States to resist it, in fulfilment of a promise really made to secure peace.

Such are the conditions in which Maryland is now invoked to imbrue her hands in the blood of civil war. It cannot escape observation, that, notwithstanding the large majority of the people of Maryland are now, and ever have been, true and faithful to the Union, and averse to every design to drag them into this ruinous career of revolution, there is an active, intelligent, and ardent minority in the State, who are bent upon forcing her into the Southern Confederacy; and that although this secession party, now accidentally in possession of the legislative power, finds itself compelled to succumb to the force gathering around it, and to temporize with the difficulties it cannot surmount, it still cherishes the purpose of future control, and only lies at lurch, waiting the events of the day to make a new effort to array the State against the Government.

In this condition of things, it is of the profoundest moment that we should invoke the good sense of every patriotic citizen in our Commonwealth to look the danger around us in the face, and before it is too late to make a united effort to recall our excited brothers to an honest and sober consideration of our destiny. The men of Maryland, of all parties, are too earnest, too faithful to their duty to themselves and the community in which they live, too honorable, frank, and just, knowingly to perpetrate a wrong against the prosperity and happiness of their own homes and kindred — their children and their friends. We accord the fullest honesty of intention even to the rashest and most thoughtless of those who are endeavoring to cast our lot upon the path of disunion. We believe them sincere in thinking that the honor and the welfare of the State demand that we should follow the lead of the bold spirits of the South who have plunged the country into this commotion. Our ingenuous and excitable youth have yielded to what we regard as but a natural impulse, when they bravely rushed to arms to resent what they were taught to think an invasion of our rights. In doing this, they have only demonstrated a noble and mistaken ardor proper to their age and temper, and which now but wants a good cause to win all the applause to which they aspire. They prove to us how much we may depend upon their manhood when the country really requires their arm. But they, like many of their elders, are acting under a delusion.

Maryland has no cause to desert our honored Stars and Stripes. Out of this Union, there is nothing but ruin for her. In the Union, dark as may be the present day, the stout resolve of Maryland to maintain her fealty to the faith of her fathers, will secure to her yet a glorious future.

Let us not fall into the fatal error of thinking that the great interests of the Union are irretrievably lost by the election of an Administration we do not like. At the worst the present predominance of a sectional party in the National Government is but a transient evil. We

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