--More than any other people in the world, those of the South
abhor the measures of arbitrary power.
Our people are the only true democracy now to be found.
Our Government is more than any other the Government
of the whole people.
True, our affairs are not conducted by orders entered in the market place by vote of the people in mass.
We have improved upon the system of Athens
, by substituting the principle of representation under the restrictions of a written organic law, for a direct participation of the multitude in public legislation But, by means of this very conduit of representation, the will of the entire people is more perfectly conveyed to, and reflected in the action of Government.
The democratic voice is not expressed tumultuously and in fits of excitement and passion; but our modes of collecting the popular will and giving utterance to the popular voice are so perfect, as to reflect the sentiment of a democracy organized, orderly, and calmed and steadied by conservative checks and balances.
Our democracy is also select, intelligent, and educated, by being relieved of the dross of ignorance and mere animal passion, which is effected through the operation of the slave institution, which deprives the class performing the mental and coarser departments of labor of all voice in public affairs.
If the problem of self government admits of affirmative solution at all, it must surely find it in the experiment that is going on successfully, if not already solved, in our Southern States.
Certainly, if the Southern
democracy prove incapable of self-government, the scheme must forever be voted chimerical and impracticable.
We hold that the experiment of free institutions in the Southern States
is successful, and that the problem of self-government is already affirmatively solved in our case.
We regard as one of the most conclusive proofs of this fact, the repugnance of our people, even in periods of imminent public danger, to tolerate all expedients and practices which attack of arbitrary power.
The fact that the people of the Northern States
have submitted to the overthrow of all the sacred bulwarks of liberty, and have allowed to military power the exercise of despotic authority in matters the most delicate and in forms the most oppressive, is proof, by tacit confession, that free institutions have proved a failure with themselves.
One of the unfortunate weaknesses of the South
is her pronounces to imitation; but amongst the most alarming manifestations of this imitative passion is the proposition that has been made in our Congress to copy that moss pernicious of all Northern measures, a military censorship of the press.
We are satisfied, however, that this project is the conception of but a few, and that the good sense and republican jealousy inherent in the Southern
people will reject the proposition with every mark of disapprobation — The people of the South
are not willing to strength the military of their experiment
They are not yet prepared to give up any of those fundamental principles of liberty which are essential to its security, health and vigor.
None of the great franchises of the freeman, liberty of speech, of the press, of the person except for crime, and especially the liberty of unrestrained discussion of public affairs, can be surrendered without end angering the very temple of liberty; the Southern
people are the last people in the world that need be required or that would consent to yield up then franchises to a Venetian Ten, an Athenian thirty, or an autocratic one; much less that would consent to be stripped of them under my pleas of danger from the public enemy.
No injury or barbarity that a public enemy would perpetrate would be half so calamitous is the loss of the franchises necessary to the security of their liberties.
It is the most fatal of all excuses for this surrender or overthrow of our great constitutional franchises, to say, that the measure is urged by the military authorities.
It is the most imbecile and disreputable of all arguments in favor of such a piece of abnegation, to say that it has been found necessary and has been put into practice by the enemy in his own section.