25.--the disunion movement.
Never for many years can the United States be to the world what they have been
. Mr. Buchanan
's message has been a greater blow to the American
people than all the rants of the Georgian Governor
or the “ordinances” of the Charleston Convention.
The President has dissipated the idea that the States which elected him constitute one people.
We had thought that the Federation was of the nature of a nationality; we find it is nothing more than a partnership.
If any State may, on grounds satisfactory to a local convention, dissolve the union between itself and its fellows; if discontent with the election of a President, or the passing of an obnoxious law by another State, or, it may be, a restrictive tariff, gives a State the “right of revolution,” and permits it to withdraw itself from the community, then the position of the American people with respect to foreign Powers is completely altered
. It is strange that a race whose patriotic captiousness when in the society of Europeans is so remarkable, should be so ready to divide and to give up the ties of fellow-citizenship for a cause which strangers are unable to appreciate.
Still stranger is it that a chief magistrate, who would have plunged the world in war rather than a suspicious craft should be boarded by English officers after it had displayed the Stars and Stripes, or would have done battle against despots for any naturalized refugee from Continental Europe
, should, without scruple, and against the advice of his own Secretary of State
, declare the Federal Union dissolved whenever a refractory State chooses to secede.
It may well be imagined that the American
people have been taken by surprise, both by the suddenness and violence of the outcry for secession, and by the ready concessions of the President
From the day the message appeared it was evident that South Carolina
no longer formed part of the Union
The State had, by every organ which it possessed — by its Senators
, its Representatives, by the voice of the Press, of the great slaveowners, and of the multitude — declared its resolution to secede.
Only courage like that of General Jackson
could have quelled the “Gamecock State,” as we perceive some of its admirers call it. But there was a middle path between civil war and such an instant recognition as Mr. Buchanan
As one charged with the duty of upholding the Federal
power, he might have easily used the authority vested in him to delay the movement, and give the Union
and South Carolina
itself time for reflection.
would, probably, deprecate holding a State by force, but he still declined to remain in the cabinet of the statesman who would not reinforce Fort Moultrie
, and assert, during the short remainder of his term of office, the supremacy of the constitution.
But as things went the action of South Carolina
On the 20th of December that State seceded from the Union
by an unanimous vote, and by this time has probably gained possession of all the Federal
property within its borders, and established a post-office and customhouse of its own. The instruments which the Carolinians drew up on this occasion are singular and almost amusing.
The philosophy and phraseology of the Declaration of Independence
of 1776 are imitated.
Whole paragraphs are copied from that famous document.
The thoughts and style of Jefferson
were evidently influenced by the great writers of his age, and we may trace Montesquieu
in every line of his composition.
It is rather interesting to see his language, which denounced King George's violation of the social compact, used by a conclave of frantic negro-drivers to stigmatize the conduct of those who will not allow a Southern gentleman to bring his “body servant” into their territory.
, however, has shown wisdom in thus taking high ground.
People are generally taken at the value which they set on themselves, and Carolina
does right to play the part of outraged patience and indignant virtue.
She has declared, in the language of the Fathers of the Republic
, that the Federal Union no longer answers the ends of its foundation by insuring the happiness and prosperity of South Carolina
, and that the conduct of several States having been a violation of the compact made by all, South Carolina
resumes her rights as a sovereign community, and will make war or peace, conclude treaties, or establish commerce, independently of the Government
This bold course has its natural effect on the exciteable slaveowners.
The secession of South Carolina
has been received everywhere with enthusiasm.
It may, perhaps, be said that the other States have feigned an approbation which they do not feel, in order to bring the North
to terms by the menace of a Southern Republic.
But, whether from feeling or policy, the secession cry was just at its loudest at the close of the year.
It was looked upon as certain that six or seven States would separate from the Union
in the first days of 1861. Georgia
leads the van. The ordinance of secession was looked upon as already passed.
The North Carolina Legislature
had read a second time the bill for arming the State
had voted, by a large majority, in favor of secession.
, the oldest, the most conservative, and the most cautious of the Slave States
, we are told that the secession feeling was gaining ground.
State conventions are to meet in Florida
on the 3d of January, in Alabama
on the 7th, in Texas
on the 8th, in Georgia
on the 9th, and in Louisiana
on the 23d; and our correspondent believes that “there will be a majority in each of them in favor of immediate and separate secession.”
Hence in a few days more the United States of America
, as the world has hitherto known them, will cease to exist.
But now comes the most singular part of this history.
Till within a few weeks hardly any body in this country believed in the dissolution of the Union
People thought that instincts of patriotism and private interest would prevail, and that the Yankees
and the Southerners would quarrel harmoniously for many years to come.
The event seems to be against these anticipations, and Englishmen are content to look on in silence and wonder.
Not so the Americans
While every mail is bringing news of fiery speeches and the planting of palmetto trees, the almost universal tone of private letters is that there is nothing in it at all. South Carolina
cannot secede, or if she does she must come back again.
The other States only want to make terms and to come back into the Union
after having extorted new concessions as the price of reconciliation.
The wish may be father to the thought, but that such is the thought is to be learnt from the most cursory glance at the American
The course of proceeding is to be as follows: South Carolina
, perhaps Louisiana
, are to separate, form a federation of their own, and then treat on equal terms with those who remain faithful to Mr. Lincoln
The Northern Slave States, with Virginia
and North Carolina
at their head, are to act as mediators, and enforce concessions by the threat of joining the Southern
league, which would then number fifteen Slave States, with a vast territory, and the prospect of conquering all the riches of Mexico
The President, it is whispered, is in favor of compromise; Gov. Seward
is in favor of compromise; in short, now that the loss of Southern wealth threatens them, greatnumbers of the stanchest Anti-Slavery men arc in favor of compromise.
What the terms of the compromise shall be of course remains in doubt.
The hope of the democratic party in the North
is that the slaveholders will not be too exacting, or insist on the repeal of the personal liberty acts, by which some of the Abolitionist States
have nullified the Fugitive Slave
act. Many of the Republicans are anxious to revive the Missouri
compromise, by which slavery will be prohibited in any part of the United States
territory north of 33° 30×. But as the abolition of this compromise and the assertion of the slaveowners' right to carry negrocs into any part of the territory is a recent and very great victory, it is hardly likely that the South
will concede this.
No one in this country can pretend to judge of the event; but this we may conclude from the tone of American discussion, that the North
will not be too rigid, and that the slaveowners will receive what all but the most rabid of them will consider satisfaction.
, who first spoke of the “irrepressible conflict” which was impending, now prophesies peace and harmony at no distant day, while many of his most intimate friends have given their adhesion to the scheme of compromise brought forward by Mr. Crittenden
But whatever may be the final restilt, we may expect to hear shortly that other States have followed the example set by South Carolina
, Jan. 9.