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[362] fought to uphold and perpetuate the institution of slavery. Slavery was a heritage handed down to the South from a time when the moral consciousness of mankind regarded it as right—a time when even the pious sons of New England were slave-owners and deterred by no conscientious scruples from plying the slave trade with proverbial Yankee enterprise. It became a peculiarly Southern institution, not because the rights of others were dearer to the Northern than to the Southern heart, but because conditions of soil and climate made negro labor unprofitable in the Northern States, and led the Northern slave-owner to sell his slaves ‘down South.’

With slavery thus fastened upon them by the force of circumstances, the Southern people sought to deal with it in the wisest and most humane way. They believed that the immediate and wholesale emancipation of the slaves would be ruinous to the whites and blacks alike; and that, under the then existing conditions, the highest interests of both themselves and the colored wards committed to their keeping demanded that the relation of master and servant should continue.

But it was not to perpetuate slavery that they fought. The impartial student of the events leading up to the civil war cannot fail to perceive that, in the words of Mr. Davis, ‘to whatever extent the question of slavery may have served as an occasion, it was far from being the cause of the conflict.’ That conflict was the bloody culmination of a controversy which had been raging for more than a generation, and the true issue in which, as far as it pertained to slavery, was sharply stated by the Hon. Samuel A. Foot, of Connecticut, when, referring to the debate on the admission of Missouri to the sisterhood of States, he said: ‘The Missouri question did not involve the question of freedom or slavery, but merely whether slaves now in the country might be permitted to reside in the proposed new State, and whether Congress or Missouri possessed the power to decide.’

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