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[383] sympathy, in which Southern politicians have so frequently indulged. It is said on high authority that at different times, and especially in 1851, these projects have been broached to members of the British ministry, and that on that occasion they were disclosed by Lord Palmerston to our minister, Mr Abbott Lawrence, and that the Southern commissioners, disheartened by the coolness with which their overtures were received, and also by the fate of the Lopez expedition, returned discomfited to the United States.

In 1857 Mr. Mason, of Virginia, announced as a fact on the floor of the Senate that the British Government had changed its opinion on the slavery question; but an early occasion was taken by that government to contradict the assertion of Mr. Mason, the Duke of Argyll declaring that he was instructed by her Majesty's ministers to do so.1

Blind as we have all been to the catastrophe that awaited us, unconscious as were the people, both at the North and at the South, of this preconcert among a few leaders in the different States, we can now trace step by step the progress of the conspiracy, and read the history of the last thirty years without an interpreter; we can understand the motive of the Texan rebellion, the war with Mexico, the persistent efforts to secure Cuba, the filibustering expeditions to Central America, and the determination to re-open the African slave trade. We can appreciate, too, the caution with which the plan of the rebellion was concealed, and especially the adroitness with which the people were allowed no time for reflection, no opportunity for action, their consent assumed on the plea of necessary haste, and the acts of secession pushed through the conventions, as charged by the Georgian editor, with no regard to popular rights, and under circumstances of excitement and frenzy by fictitious majorities.

The doctrine of secession, earnestly as it had been advocated, failed to convince the capitalists, the planters, and the common-sense statesmen of the South--even in South Carolina.

A few years since Mr. Boyce, of that State, late a member of the House of Representatives, in an address to the people, after showing that by secession they would lose the vitality of a State, that they would exist only by tolerance, a painful and humiliating spectacle, that it would involve a sacrifice of the present without in anywise gaining in the future, emphatically declared, “such is the intensity of my conviction on the subject, that if secession should take place, of which I have no idea, for I cannot believe in such stupendous madness, I shall consider the institution of slavery as doomed, and that the great God in our blindness has made us the instrument of its destruction.”

Even so late as the autumn of 1860, and after the Presidential election that announced the defeat of the slave power which had so long ruled the country, the leading men of the South who had not been in the plot, battled manfully against it. On the 14th of November last, Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, now the vice-president of the rebel confederacy, delivered a long and able speech in the Georgia house of representatives, in which, in answer to the question whether the Southern States should secede in consequence of Mr. Lincoln's election, he said:

My countrymen, I tell you frankly, candidly, and earnestly, that I do not think that they ought.

Reminding them of the sacred obligation resting on them to be true to their national engagements, he exclaimed:

If the Republic is to go down, let us be found to the last moment standing on the deck, with the Constitution of the United States waving over our heads.

And this sentiment was greeted with applause.

He expressed his belief that Mr. Lincoln would do nothing to jeopard their safety or security, and showed them the wisdom of our system with its checks and guards. He reminded them that the President was powerless unless backed by Congress — that the House of Representatives was largely against him, and that there would be a majority of four against him in the Senate, and referring to a remark that no Georgian, who was true to his State, could consistently hold office under Mr. Lincoln, reminded them that such office could be honorably held, for it would be conferred by the approval of a Democratic Senate--and this exposition was received with “prolonged applause.”

Mr. Stephens frankly avowed that he would never submit to any Republican aggression on their constitutional rights to preserve the Union; but insisted that all their rights could be secured in the Union, and emphatically declared, “That this Government of our fathers with all its defects, comes nearer the objects of all good governments than any other on the face of the earth, is my settled conviction.” * * “Have we not at the South, as well as at the North, grown great, prosperous, and happy under its operation? Has any part of the world ever shown such rapid progress in the development of wealth, and all the material resources of national power and greatness as the Southern States have under the General Government, notwithstanding all its defects?”

Mr. Stephens then, with philosophic skill, showed that the institutions of a people constitute the matrix from which spring all their characteristics of development and greatness. “Look,” he said, “at Greece. There is the same fertile soil, the same blue sky, the same inlets and harbors, the same Aegean, the same Olympus; there is the same land where Homer sung, where Pericles spoke; it is the same old Greece — but it is living Greece no more.” He pictured its ruin of art and civilization, and traced that ruin to the downfall of their institutions.

1 See a letter dated London, December 10, 1853, published and endorsed by the Commercial Advertiser, January 30, 1861.

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