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[239] Union, their people felt a just pride in the Union to which they had contributed so much, and shrank from the abhorrent thought of abandoning it until affection was lost in the realization that danger was imminent.

Content with their institutions, and willing to allow others the full enjoyment of all their rights, the South sought not to meddle with the affairs of others, and asked only to be let alone in the quiet enjoyment of their own. But they were denied this, and continually were offended by the querulous voice of opposition to their peculiar institution and threatened with aggression.

The feeble cry, which at first was uttered to unburden tender conscience, awakened by an imaginary responsibility for fancied sin committed by other people, oblivious of, or inattentive to its own, became at length the triumphant shout of a victorious host, arousing the too confiding South from its fancied security in the Union in which it was thus exposed; and then, when it was too late, was attempted what might sooner have been easily accomplished.

The Southern people had beheld with painful solicitude the growth of a sentiment hostile to their interests from small beginnings to a vast political power, which at last exhibited strength sufficient to control a Presidential election, and culminated in a party triumph, hostile to their dearest rights.

What were they to do? Were they to sit still and look supinely on and take no step to avert threatened injury? Were they to imitate the simple, who passeth heedlessly on, and is punished; or the prudent who foreseeth the evil, and avoideth it? The suggestion is readily and tauntingly made; they did not avoid it, but aggravated the evil they feared by the course pursued. The declaration is more easily made than proved. Who can say what would have been the result of quietly waiting the course of events? Has power ever been known to curb itself? Have enthusiasm and fanaticism ever placed impassable bounds to their excess? Would sentiment and religious fervor, quickened into zeal, and pressed into partisan service, have been contented with moderation in the exercise of official power?

Would not the progress made and triumph gained soon have demanded greater? Let history answer.

It is probably true that delay of action by the Southern people would have left them for a time in enjoyment of their rights; but how long, no one can tell or plausibly conjecture. We might have escaped the contest, to be precipitated upon our children or theirs; but a time surely would have come when the alternative would have

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