That provision, for reasons equally conclusive, will doubtless pass into the Constitution of the Permanent Government. The prohibition, therefore, will no longer be a question of policy, but will be a cardinal principle of the Southern Confederacy. It will not be a question for the several States, in view of any peculiarity in their circumstances and condition, but will be fixed by a paramount power, which nothing but another revolution can overturn. If Texas shall want labor, she must elect whether it shall be hireling labor or slave labor; and if she shall elect slave labor, she must be content with that only which comes from other States on this continent, and at such prices as the States on this continent shall see proper to exact. If Virginia shall not join the Confederacy of the South, she is at least assured of a market for her slaves at undiminished prices; and if there shall be, as there unquestionably is, a vast demand for labor at the South; and if there shall be, as there unquestionably will be, a vast supply of pauper labor from the North and Europe, and States at the South shall be in danger of being overrun and abolitionized, as the States of the North have been overrun and abolitionized, there must be no power in any State to counteract the evil. Democracy is right, for it has the approval of the world; slavery wrong, and only to be tolerated in consideration of the property involved; and while the one is to be encouraged, therefore the other is to be presented in such attitude as to be as little offensive as it may be to the better sentiment of an enlightened world. Such I take to be a fair statement of the principles announced in the earliest utterance of the Southern Republic; and I need scarcely say that I deprecate them greatly. I fear their effects upon the present harmony of feeling; I fear their effects upon the fortunes of the Republic; and I will take the liberty of intervening and of presenting reasons why I think we should not take such action at the present time. I may seem presumptuous, but I have a stake too great to scruple at the measures necessary to preserve it. I take a liberty, without permission, in making you the object of this letter; but our personal relations will assure you that I have but the simple purpose, if possible, to be of service to my country; and if, in representing a measure so offensive, I may seem wanting in respect for the “spirit of the age,” I have but to say that I have been connected with the slave trade measure from the start. I have incurred whatever of odium could come from its initiation; I have been trusted by its friends with a leading part in its advancement; and so situated, at a time when prejudice or a mistaken policy would seem to shape our action to a course inconsistent with our dignity and interests, I have no personal considerations to restrain me, and feel that it is within my province to interpose and offer what I can of reasons to arrest it. Nor will I be justly chargeable with an unseasonable agitation of this question. We were truly solicitous to postpone it to another time; we were willing to acquiesce in whatever policy the States themselves might see proper to adopt. But when it is proposed to take advantage of our silence, to enter judgment by default, to tie the hands of States, and so propitiate a foreign sentiment by a concession inconsiderate and gratuitous, it is our privilege to intervene; and I am in error if your clear conception of the questions at issue, and your devotion to the paramount cause of the South, will not induce you to admit that the odium is not on us of introducing a distracting issue. The South is now in the formation of a Slave Republic. This, perhaps, is not admitted generally. There are many contented to believe that the South as a geographical section is in mere assertion of its independence; that it is instinct with no especial truth — pregnant of no distinct social nature; that for some unaccountable reason the two sections have become opposed to each other; that, for reasons equally insufficient, there is disagreement between the peoples that direct them; and that from no overruling necessity, no impossibility of coexistence, but as mere matter of policy, it has been considered best for the South to strike out for herself and establish an independence of her own. This, I fear, is an inadequate conception of the controversy. The contest is not between the North and South as geographical sections, for between such sections merely there can be no contest; nor between the people of the North and the people of the South, for our relations have been pleasant, and on neutral grounds there is still nothing to estrange us. We eat together, trade together, and practise yet, in intercourse, with great respect, the courtesies of common life. But the real contest is between the two forms of society which have become established, the one at the North and the other at the South. Society is essentially different from government — as different as is the nut from the bur, or the nervous body of the shellfish from the bony structure which surrounds it; and within this Government two societies had become developed as variant in structure and distinct in form as any two beings in animated nature. The one is a society composed of one race, the other of two races. The one is bound together but by the two great social relations of husband and wife and parent and child; the other by the three relations of husband and wife, and parent and child, and master and slave. The one embodies in its political structure the principle that equality is the right of man; the other that it is the right of equals only. The one, embodying the principle that equality is the right of man, expands upon the horizontal plane of pure democracy; the other, embodying the principle that it is not the right of man, but of equals only, has taken to itself the rounded form of a social aristocracy. In the one there is hireling labor, in the other slave labor; in the one,
This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
Battle of Bull Run .
Doc . 4 .- N. Y. Tribune narrative.
Doc . 59 : a Virginian who is not a traitor: response of Lieut. Mayo , U. S. N. , to the proclamation of Gov. Letcher .
Doc . 65 -speech of Galusha A. Grow , on taking the Chair of the House of Representatives of the United States , July 4 .
Doc . 135 .- Virginia ordinance, prohibiting citizens of Virginia from holding office under the United States , passed July , 1861 .
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