Secession or Submission — empire or vassalage.In the case of Virginia, there is but a step from commercial vassalage to commercial empire; and that step is Secession. Standing upon the brink of ruin, she can, by one stride, reach either the realm of glory or of perdition. Emphatically is it true, in her case: There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallow, and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat.
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
We have dwelt with iteration upon the ruin which would overtake Virginia, if, by remaining in an Abolition Confederacy, she should stampede her slaves and exile their masters — that perloss class of citizens who have been so long her pride and her support. We have depicted the depopulation and the desolation that would be brought upon Tidewater and Piedmont Virginia by the loss of the blacks and their owners; we have pointed out the onerous, crushing taxation that would fall upon the inhabitants remaining in the State, after this mournful hegira; and we have described, imperfectly, but with truth, the crash of prosperity and the heavy harvest of bankruptcy that would ensue upon the dislocation and expulsion of the slave institution of Virginia. To unite with the Southern Confederacy is to obviate all these evils — to avert all these calamities. It is to do much more. It is, at once, holding on to all we have, to embark upon a new career of prosperity. It is to emerge from the commercial dependence upon the North which we have so long ingloriously submitted to, and become ourselves the leading commercial and manufacturing power upon the continent; while, at the same time, continuing to be the largest agricultural power. What the nature and extent of our present vassalage to the North is, we shall let a Northern writer describe, even the notorious Helper himself: ‘ "Reader ! would you understand how abjectly slaveholders themselves are enslaved to the products of Northern industry ? If you would fix your mind on a Virginia gentleman — a breeder, buyer and seller of bipedal black cattle — who, withal, professes to be a Christians [This book, be it remembered, was highly extolled and warmly recommended by Mr. Seward, with whom leading submissionists in our Virginia councils, have been for several months, and are still, in close, confidential conference.] Observe the routine of his daily life, see him rise in the morning from a Northern bed, and clothe himself in Northern apparel; see him walk across the floor on a Northern carpet, and perform his ablutions out of a Northern ewer and basic. See him uncover a box of Northern powders, and cleanse his teeth with a Northern brush; see him reflecting his physiognomy in a Northern mirror, and arranging his hair with a Northern comb. See him dosing himself with the medicaments of Northern quacks, and perfuming his handkerchief with Northern cologne; see him referring to the time in a Northern watch, and glancing at the news in a Northern gazette. See him and his family sitting in Northern chairs, and singing and praying out of Northern books. See him at the breakfast table, saying grace over a Northern plate, eating with Northern cutlery, and drinking from Northern utensils. See him charmed with the melody of a Northern piano, or musing over the pages of a Northern novel. See him riding to his neighbor's in a Northern carriage, or furrowing his lands with a Northern plow. See him lighting his cigar with a Northern match, and flogging his negro with a Northern lash. See him with Northern pen and ink, writing letters on Northern paper, and sending them away in Northern envelopes, sealed with Northern wax, and impressed with a Northern stamp. Perhaps our Virginia gentleman is a merchant; if so, see him at his store, making an unpatriotic use of his time in the miserable traffic of Northern gimcracks and haberdashery; see him when you will, where you will, he is ever surrounded with the industrial products of those whom, in the strange inconsistency of his heart, he execrates as enemies, yet treats as friends. His labors, his talents, his influence, are all for the North, and not for the South. As we see our ruinous system of commerce exemplified in the family of our Virginia gentleman — a branch of one of the first families, of course ! --so we may see it exemplified in almost every other family throughout the length and breadth of the slaveholding States--all buying and selling, and wearing and using Northern merchandize at a double expense — all clothed capa-pie in Northern habiliments. Our hats, our caps, our cravats, our coats, our vests, our pants, our gloves, our boots, our shoes, our under-garments — all come from the North; whence, too, Southern ladies procure all their bonnets, plumes and flowers; dresses, shawls and scarfs; frills, ribbons and ruffles; cuffs, capes and collars. We should not run to New York, Boston, Philadelphia, or Cincinnati, every time we want a shoestring, or a bedstead, a fish-hook, or a hand-saw, a tooth-pick or a cotton-gin." The satire is severe enough, and the more biting because substantially true. It is in itself no shame to Virginia, however, that she buys abroad what she can obtain cheaper than she could herself produce; and it is a proof of the immense productiveness of her slave labor, that it enables her to purchase the whole of this catalogue of Helper, together with all other like luxuries and necessaries of life, with the proceeds of that labor. What other country on earth could afford this exhausting system of expenditure but the South? --but the country employing her system of slave labor? The fact that our country still prospers and grows wealthy in spite of this enormous and incessant drain upon her resources, is one of the strongest proofs of the superiority of slave labor as a system of productive industry. Such a system of expenditure would bankrupt all Yankee land in six months; and it would bankrupt Virginia also in six months, after she lost her slave system. What would become of Virginia, if, by adhering to the North, she should stampede her slaves, and should continue to purchase from that section Helper's long catalogue of ‘ "gimcracks and haberdashery?"’--Without her negroes she would be without revenue, without resources, and the shrewd Yankee would soon refuse to trust her for the tooth- picks and shoe-strings, fish-hooks and hand-saws, frills, ribbons and ruffles, which, in barter for the products of her slave labor, he now showers upon her in such liberal profusion. We can imagine no condition more abject, more debased, than would be that of Virginia, with her slave system uprooted and expelled, with her slaveholders exiled, with her great fountains of wealth and independence broken up, and still bound with cords of shame and humiliation to a section exacting from her every dollar of her resources, and supplying her, as if she were a savage of the forest, with every article of utility and attire conceivable through the whole catalogue of small wares familiar to Helper and the peddlers, to shoe-strings, fish-hooks, gimcracks and haberdashery. It requires but a single step to lift her from her present vassalage, and to snatch her from the ‘"lower deep"’ of perdition and infamy, at the brink of which she stands. She has but to repudiate her present blasting political association; to ally herself with her comely daughters of the South, anxious to welcome her to their embraces; and, stretching forth her hand, to grasp the sceptre of commercial supremacy in half the North American continent. The Mediterranean of the Western Hemisphere washes her Eastern shore. The fairest harbors, and safest roadsteads of the Southern seaboard lie within her border, and the great direct lines of interior and continental trade pass over her tide-water cities. From Memphis, one of the largest depots of the cotton crop, to Liverpool, through Norfolk, the distance is 4,250 miles. From the same city to Liverpool, through New York, the distance is 4,550; with five hundred miles of costly railroad transit more than by way of Norfolk. From Memphis, through New Orleans, to Liverpool, the distance is 6,192 miles. The Norfolk route has the advantage over that by New York, in respect to cheapness, of 500 miles of railroad transportation. Over the route by New Orleans it has the advantage of fifteen days in time. This is the secret of the large shipment of cotton now going on through Norfolk — even before the English shipping has yet found out this valuable channel of trade, and presented itself at Norfolk for freights. These shipments are but the precursors of a great movement — of a momentous revolution of trade. To concentrate the great bulk of Southern trade in the waters of the Chesapeake, Virginia has but to become politically, as she is socially, part and parcel of the South, bone of her bone, and flesh of her flesh. ’