upon its tendencies to controversy — a measure that might long have extended the term of the Union
, and certainly would have realized a very beautiful idea of political association.
But we must notice here another cause of disunion that supervened upon that of Federal incoherence, and rapidly divided the country.
It was that Sectional Animosity, far more imposing than any mere discord of States, inasmuch as it put in opposition, as it were, two distinct nations on a geographical line, that by a single stroke divided the country, and thus summarily effected what smaller differences would have taken long to accomplish.
We have elsewhere briefly referred to the divisions of population between the Northern
and Southern States, marked as they were by strong contrasts between the characters of the people of each.
Had these divisions existed only in a contracted space of country, they might have resulted in nothing more than the production of parties or the formation of classes.
But extending as they did over the space of a continent, these divisions ceased to be political parties or classes of one community, and really existed in the condition of distinct communities or nations.
A recent English writer has properly and acutely observed: “In order to master the difficulties of American politics, it will be very important to realize the fact that we have to consider, not the action of rival parties or opposing interests within the limits of one body politic, but practically that of two distinct communities or peoples, speaking indeed a common language, and united by a federal bond, but opposed in principles and interests, alienated in feeling, and jealous rivals in the pursuit of political power.”
No one can read aright the history of America
, unless in the light of a North and a South: two political aliens existing in a Union imperfectly defined as a confederation of States.
If insensible or forgetful of this theory, he is at once involved in an otherwise inexplicable mass of facts, and will in vain attempt an analysis of controversies, apparently the most various and confused.
The Sectional Animosity, which forms the most striking and persistent feature in the history of the American States
, may be dated certainly as far back as 1787.
In the Convention
which formed the Constitution
, Mr. Madison
discovered beneath the controversy between the large and small States another clashing of interests.
He declared that the States were divided into different interests by other circumstances as well as by their difference of size; the most material of which resulted partly from climate, but principally from the effects of their having or not having slaves.
“These two causes,” he said, “concurred in forming the great division of interests in the United States
;” and “if any defensive power were necessary it ought to be mutually given to these two sections.”