Wanted the slave law nullified.
Fourteen Northern States passed laws to practically nullify the fugitive slave law, but in doing so they not only violated the compromise and the compact of the Constitution
, but the law as their own courts expounded it. The highest courts of these States (including that of Massachusetts
, speaking through Chief-Justice Shaw
), whenever the occasion arose to pass upon this law, uniformly supported it. The Supreme Court of Wisconsin
did give a hasty opinion against it, but quickly retracted it. The lawless legislation was not South, but North, as tried by the exclusive jurisprudence of the latter.
Never were people more completely covered by all the planopy of law—even the law of vindictive Commonwealths—than the people of the South
It was in this state of the law of the land, as expounded by the highest Federal tribunal, that a party arose which sought no suffer-age, offered no candidates, and excluded recognition in all that portion of the country which is called the South
It was a declara
tion of war against fifteen of the States of the Union
and against the Federal
compact upon which they stood.
It was an appeal to one portion of the country, and that the most powerful portion, to know no rest until they had destroyed the other.
It had no other reason of existence than to slit the North
from the South
by one clean cut, and then to mass the former against the latter.
It had one memorable predecessor in the convention of Northern States (from which every Southern State was excluded), which met at Harrisburg
in 1828 to frame the tariff known to history as ‘The Bill of Abominations.’
The ‘abominations’ of that bill had been driven from the field in demoralized route and disorder.
By their own intrinsic force they could make no further stand.
Only on the back of this new agitation could they again ride into power.
The States which could no longer be banded under the invocation of an imaginary interest were at last and permanently banded under the banner of a real enmity.1
This opinion may be reinforced by that of a cool, dispassionate, Free-Soil Democrat—the ablest Northern statesman of his time and surpassed by none of any time.
It was the opinion of Samuel J. Tilden
that if the Republican party should be successful the Federal
government in the Southern States
‘would cease to be self-government, and would become a government by one people over another distinct people—a thing impossible with our race except as a consequence of successful war, and even then incompatible with our democratic institutions.’2
This was what the statesmen of the South
foresaw and looked courageously in the face.
The success of the party ranged against them meant the government of the South
by the North
and for the North
—the relation of victor and victim.
was the representative of opinions and interests confined to one-half of the country and pledged to an irrepressible conflict with the other.
The tariff which sprang from the first throes of the convulsion gave audible warning, that one of the spoils which belonged to the victor was the taxing power of the government, to be used to throw the
substance of one-half of the States into the lap of the other; the supplies of the South
to be intercepted by the receipt of customs, which would divert the profits of her industry into the pocket of the North