The issue described.
[From the National Intelligencer.]
It is well, amid the agitations of the present time, to keep our eye steadily fixed on the moral and legal aspect of the present great insurrection against the Union
, as that aspect was discerned and described in advance by one who, perhaps as much as any other, contributed to ‘"precipitate"’ the ‘"Cotton States"’ into revolution against the National Government
, avowedly because of the election of an unacceptable man to the Presidency.
When in the ‘"Southern Commercial Convention,"’ sitting at Montgomery, Ala.
, in the month of May, 1858, a debate was had upon the propriety of agitating for the repeal of all the Federal
statutes prohibiting the slave trade, it will be remembered that the Hon. Wm. L. Yancey
advocated the affirmative of that proposition, and a vowed a willingness to make a casus fœderls
of the refusal of Congress to comply with such a demand.
In opposition to this view the Hon. Henry W. Hilliard
, of Alabama
, who deprecated any agitation looking to a renewal of the slave trade, proposed that the election of a ‘"Republican"’ President
should be made the occasion of withdrawing from the Union
What Mr. Yancey
thought of such a proceeding, in its legal and moral relations, was frankly stated at the time, and as in doing so he has defined the character of the present rebellion in terms which were once prophetic and are now historical, we cite them as the verdict which the impartial narrator will be compelled to employ in portraying this revolution, as conceived by its very authors.
It was in reply to Mr. Hilliard
that Mr. Yancey
held the following language:
"I say, with all deference to my colleague, (Mr. Hilliard
,) that no more inferior issue could be tendered to the South
, upon which we should dissolve the Union
, than the loss of an election.
If in the contest of 1860 for the Presidency, Seward
should receive the legal number of votes necessary to elect him, according to the forms of the Constitution
and the law, gentlemen say that then will be the time to dissolve the Union
If that is made the cause of disunion, I say to them I will go with them; but I will feel that I am going in the wake of an inferior issue, that there was a banner over me that is not of the kind I would wish.
When I am asked to raise the flag of revolution against the Constitution
, I am asked to do as unconstitutional thing, according to the Constitution
as it now exists.
I am asked to put myself in the position of a rebel, of a traitor, in a position where, if the Government
should succeed and put me down in the revolution, I and my friends can be arraigned before the Supreme Court of the United States
, and there sentenced to be hanged for violating the Constitution
and laws of my country.
And if I should be asked why sentence should not be passed on me, I could not then, as I can now, in reference to past issues, I could not say then, even to the bloody judges who sit upon the bench, my hands are guiltless of wrong against the Constitution
of my country, and I appeal to an enlightened posterity, to the judgment of the world, to vindicate my name and memory, when, as Emmett
said, my country shall have taken her place once more an equal among the nations of the earth."