previous next


The public Press on Secession.

From the latest papers North and South, we take the following expressions of opinion relative to the recent action of South Carolina:


[from the Petersburg (Va.) Intelligencer.]

‘ It is with deep sorrow that we chronicle this hasty and ill-advised action of our sister State. Refusing to wait for the result of the efforts which her Southern confederates were making for an amicable and satisfactory settlement of all our grievances, she has rashly and precipitately resolved to quit the Union, hoping, no doubt, to drag the other States along with her. For our part, we are not yet prepared to follow her lead. She has not shown sufficient consideration for our wishes, and opinions to make it desirable for us to accept her as a leader. Our situation, perilous as it was, has been rendered doubly complicated by her rashness and folly, and still we shall not relax one jot of heart or hope for a permanent and satisfactory adjustment of our differences inside the Union. As she regarded not our advice in the policy which she has thought proper to pursue, so we shall continue in the path we have marked out, regardless of her secession.--Our government under the Constitution, though in many things it has been carried on with a proper cognizance of our rights, is yet capable of amendment, and until we have exhausted every peaceable mode of bringing it back to the beauty and symmetry in which it was bequeathed to us by our fathers, we do not intend to be "hitched" on to the tail of South Carolina in her rash purpose to destroy. It has been to us the source of too many blessings, and around its base cluster the memory of too many hallowed associations, for us to witness the destruction of this majestic column, reared by the heroes and sages of the Revolution, with so great an expenditure of blood and treasure. We would be recreant to every dictate of honor and of patriotism, did we unite in this wicked attempt to destroy it, while there yet remained a hope of preserving it in all its pride and glory. The conservative men of all sections are now bending all their energies to remove all causes of dissension. The action of the South Carolina Convention will, we hope, instead of diminishing, largely add to their number. For one, we promise them our cordial and unfaltering co-operation.


[from the Petersburg (Va.) Express]

‘ There was but little discussion upon the question. A single day — probably a single hour — sufficed for the introduction, reading and passage of this document, which, however popular in South Carolina, has yet to undergo the ordeal of the world's judgment. History — not the heated journals and impulsive orators that are now so loudly and enthusiastically applauding it — but sober, dispassionate history, in its after-time review of all the facts, circumstances and influences connected with this astounding act of South Carolina, will have to pass upon it. To say that the intelligence of the event surprised or startled us, would be to say what was not true. We had prepared our mind fully for it. We could not have expected that the Convention would hesitate or falter in doing what it was specially and solely commissioned to do.

’ We have never believed in the wisdom or efficacy of separate secession. We felt always convinced that the election of Lincoln and Hamlin would be followed by the most disastrous excitement at the South, and that the Union would be imminently periled, if not destroyed. But, then, we thought that the slave States would all join in a common action, whatever that action might be, as it was unquestionably their duty and their interests to do. We could hardly suppose that any one of them would consider it right or politic to detach herself entirely from the others and withdraw separately. But the thing has been done, no doubt, mainly under the cherished expectation that all, or many of the others, would speedily and certainly follow in similar fashion.

South Carolina has chosen to exercise a sovereignty which we conscientiously believe belongs to her — but in so exercising it we are decidedly of the opinion that she has acted with a precipitancy, a levity, and an indiscretion wholly irreconcilable with the responsibilities and obligations involved in the case.


[from the Philadelphia North American.]

‘ It is evident that this action is intended to cover two points — the one great point being the consummation of some act declaratory of secession, and the other being an effort to leave all the practical relations of the people to the Union in postal and commercial affairs just as they are until "Commissioners" can negotiate. This preliminary ordinance is, therefore, more an appearance than a reality. Under it no officer of the General Government is expected to resign, and Mr. Buchanan's administration is confidently looked to, to aid in smoothing the way for an international arrangement.

’ There is yet, therefore, no "overt act," or any construction of law likely to be made in the case, and there will be none until some of the officers fail to account to the Government, or to obey the orders of the Departments. The passage of a preliminary declaration of this sort is an ingenious and, we were about to say, creditable act — certainly one testifying to a mixture of sense and caution not heretofore apparent. It has a grand show of seeming to do much, while it practically does little. It may be remarked that the nullification ordinance of 1833 was a formal and full document in comparison with this, prescribing a cause of resistance to the laws and authority of the United States, and on this ground the proclamation of Gen. Jackson was made very severe and direct. Even that ordinance did not dissolve the Union.


[from the Philadelphia Ledger.]

South Carolina, yesterday, passed the Secession Ordinance, declaring that she is no longer a member of the Union, and that all the laws of the Federal Government and the treaties which she, as one of the thirty-three States, had assented to as binding upon the United States, and to be abrogated only after notice to foreign governments, are of no effect as far as she is concerned. This is as cool a proceeding towards foreign governments as is sending Commissioners to Washington to partition and distribute the property of the Federal Government. Of course, the United States Government cannot recognize the secession of South Carolina, or receive or negotiate with her agents. The duty of the Federal Government is plain. It is to enforce the laws in every part of the territories of the United States, without regard to the attitude assumed by any portion of the inhabitants therein. It is to defend, by all the power of the Government, the property and the authority of the General Government, and not permit spoliation or violation of either. This is a different thing from making war upon a State. If resistance is made to the Government, it is the people of a State making war upon the Government, and the responsibility must rest with them. It will be seen by the proceedings, that the disunionists, in their haste to get out of the Union, have left themselves in the position of having no government at all.


[from the Philadelphia Inquirer.]

‘ The result of this self-styled "secession" is not likely to do more harm than its anticipation. There has been some excitement in Congress consequent on its proclamation over the electric wires, and there will be much talk about it throughout the North. The simple fact is merely that South Carolina is out of the Union, as far as she can accomplish that result by her own act, exclusive of its recognition under the forms of law, and according to the will or consent of her sisters in the Confederacy. It remains for us in the North, by a manly course, to show that the effect of this, whatever be the end, shall not be to depreciate our property or derange our business to the extent hoped for by those who have willfully broken the Federal compact. The intrinsic value of our possessions and our native and inseparable energy are left to us unaffected. With our hardy millions of men and fruitful millions of acres, we are strong and prosperous enough, and always will remain so, unless God should taint our vigorous blood, blast our teeming soil, and swallow up our mines in earthquakes. Therefore, let us not fear or whimper. If, in the course of time, it may be discovered that this completed threat of secession be but another mode to obtain concession and a reconstruction of the Federal Constitution — well. Then, let right be done.


[from the New York Express.]

‘ With heavy heart and faltering pen, we announce to-day the dissolution of our beloved, and once glorious Union! The chain is broken, and we are one and indivisible no longer! The event, for which the public mind has been for some days past gradually preparing, is now a matter of history. Without a solitary dissenting voice, the Charleston Convention yesterday afternoon passed the Ordinance severing the connection of South Carolina with the Federal Government; and that Commonwealth, therefore, must now be considered, as she herself desires to be considered, no longer a member of the Confederacy, but a Foreign State! There is an oppressiveness in the thought which must fall with crushing force upon every patriotic near!, and give rise to forebodings of even worse calamities to come. Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, we fear, will go next. Our future is impenetrably dark; and, new that the first link is sundered in the chain which has bound us together in one great family of States since the days of the Revolution, we feel that only the hand of Almighty God can save us from destruction.


[from the N. Y. Tribune.]

‘ According to the general expectation, that State has gone out of the Union; but if we do not forget that it is not the first time she has done so, we shall tremble the less. We remember when she was ready to go to the death for Gen. Hamilton's sugar, when it was said of her, "dules et decorum est pre patria mori. "--But it was sweeter yet to come back, and she came back. She may do so again. It is so easy to pass resolutions, so difficult to execute them. Her first act of sovereignty is rather ludicrous. She asks the Government from which she secedes to conduct for her postal system!

’ However, she is gone, and If she is gratified by the manner of her going, the gratification is one which nobody, we fancy, will grudge her. If she chooses to be without the advantages of the Union, which her sister States enjoy and will continue to enjoy, the loss is hers, and the advantages — so far as the saving of some heavy expense is concerned — is ours. How in any other sense she is to get out of the Union, it is not easy to see. Her Commissioners will presently appear at Washington, and will have the honor, doubtless, of dining with the Old Public Functionary, who still holds high Court in the White House. They may wait upon Congress, but Congress has no authority to treat with them upon the subject of dissolution. What, then, can they do? Like the French King who marched up the hill with twice ten thousand men, and then marched down again, they can return to Charleston and report progress. Only let the State continue to pay the regular duties on imports, and keep her hands off the forts, and she can secede as long as she pleases.


[from the New York world]

‘ Well, South Carolina has crossed the Rubicon. She unanimously passed her Secession Ordinance yesterday, and is doubtless expecting that all creation will feel the shock. They seem, however, to have taken it very quietly at Washington, and we doubt whether there will be much nervousness elsewhere. South Carolina is to-day, in spite of her ordinance, just as completely and absolutely a part of the American Union as she was yesterday. She might as well have resolved the harbor of Charles on to be no longer a part of the Atlantic Ocean. The city can no more recede from the tides than the State can secede from the bonds which bind this great Union together. South Carolina, by herself, is helpless; and unless the other slave States come to her relief, she will soon be in a most pitiable condition — the condition of all those whose realized achievement falls ridiculously short of their declared aim. The only apprehension that need be felt, is from the chance that the other Southern States will make common cause with her. What this chance amounts to, will soon be seen.


[from the New York Times.]

‘ As this step was universally anticipated, it will create no special uneasiness. It does not change the relations of South Carolina to the Union in the slightest degree, though it will very possibly be followed by acts that will have that effect. It is not easy to see how she can avoid refusing to pay duties at once, as her continuance in paying, upon her own theory, becomes now an act of gratuitous subjection and tribute to a foreign State.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
Lincoln (1)
James Jackson (1)
Hamlin (1)
George Hamilton (1)
James Buchanan (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1833 AD (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: