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Charles Congdon, Tribune Essays: Leading Articles Contributing to the New York Tribune from 1857 to 1863. (ed. Horace Greeley), The Contagion of Secession. (search)
epublic. Wicked men, even at the North, are beginning openly and shamelessly to dally with disunion, and propose, since dislocation has come into fashion, to multiply the fragments of our institutions. All this is terrible. We can better afford to lose fifty fights than thus to weaken the morality of our cause. We can better afford to submit to invasion, than thus to make disintegration familiar to our constituencies. We can better afford to let the Slaveholding soldiers bivouac in the capitol, than to be betrayed into negotiations which are full of danger, or to dally with compromises which, with their adoption, must precipitate us into unmitigated anarchy. Already we begin to hear of Western Confederacies, of New England Confederacies, of Middle States transmogrified into Middle Confederacies. Already we have hints of new and tempting combinations, aiming at safe and convenient boundaries, and the monopoly of internal navigation. Already the coming Congress casts its dark
Admiral David D. Porter, The Naval History of the Civil War., Chapter 45: the cruise of the Sumter and the havoc she committed. (search)
Semmes has published what he doubtless considered a masterly argument in defence of his cause; but, although he speaks of Webster and Story with great contempt, he was hardly equal to either of them as a constitutional lawyer, and the secession fallacy has been so thoroughly exposed that we have no fears of another civil war based on State Rights theories. Commander Semmes resigned his commission in the United States Navy on the 15th of February, 1861, and made the best of his way to the capitol of the Southern Confederacy, temporarily fixed at Montgomery, Alabama. On his arrival he put himself in communication with Mr. Conrad, Chairman of the Confederate States Naval Committee, and when President Davis reached the city, a few days afterwards, offered his services to the Confederate Government. They were at once accepted, and Semmes proceeded to Washington. after a visit to Richmond and Harper's Ferry, to ascertain the character of certain machinery at the latter place, in antic
ions of positions. I intended to stay for a time in Washington; but ran through it, like Christian out of Vanity Fair, praying to be delivered from the flocks of temptations, which hover, like ghouls, in and around the executive mansion and the capitol of our republic. Sail to Alexandria. Having thus, with expeditious virtue, resisted all offers of official position, I entered the ferry boat — George Page, by name — which plies between the capital and the city of Alexandria. It rained h, and Girls. may 24. Pulliam & Davis, Aucts. Dickinson, Hill & Company, body-sellers and body-buyers, subject only to the Constitution, carry on their nefarious business in Wall street — I believe its name is — within pistol shot of the capitol of Virginia and its executive mansion. Near their auction-room, on the opposite side of the street, is the office of another person engaged in the same inhuman traffic, who has painted, in bold Roman letters, on a signboard over the door: E
net profit of many thousands of dollars per annum. The advertisements in The National Intelligencer, United States Telegraph, Globe, Union, etc., of negroes whom he had caught and caged, and, in default of an owner, was about to sell, were widely copied in both hemispheres, provoking comments by no means flattering to our country nor its institutions. The plumage of the American eagle was often ruffled by criticisms and comparisons between these legal proceedings, under the shadow of our Capitol, and the harsher dealings of savages and heathen with strangers so luckless as to fall into their hands; and the point of these invidious comparisons was barbed by their undeniable justice. Petitions for the Abolition of Slavery in the Federal District, or, at least, of the Slave-Trade so flourishing therein, had been from time immemorial presented to Congress, and treated with no more disrespect or disregard than petitions to legislative bodies usually encounter. One of these, presente
the refusal of the Republicans in Congress to cooperate in the legalization of Slavery in the territories, he asked: What spectacle do we present to-day? Already six States have withdrawn from this confederacy. Revolution has actually begun. The term secession divests it of none of its terrors, nor do arguments to prove secession inconsistent with our Constitution stay its progress, or mitigate its evils. All virtue, patriotism, and intelligence, seem to have fled from our National Capitol; it las been well likened to the conflagration of an asylum for madmen — some look on with idiotic imbecility; some in sullen silence; and some scatter the firebrands which consume the fabric above then, and bring upon all a common destruction. Is there one revolting aspect in this scene which has not its parallel at the Capitol of your country? Do you not see there the senseless imbecility, the garrulous idiocy, the maddened rage, displayed with regard to petty personal passions and part
war at Charleston, at Pensacola, or in Texas, or, perhaps, at all these places, the inquiry is forced upon us, What will be the probable consequences? We apprehend that they will be: first, the secession of Virginia and the other border Slave States, and their union with the Confederate States; secondly, the organization of an army for the removal of the United States ensign and authorities from every fortress or public building within the Confederate States, including the White House, the capitol, and other public buildings at Washington. After the secession of Virginia from the United States, it is not likely that Maryland can be restrained from the same decisive act. She will follow the fortunes of Virginia, and will undoubtedly claim that, in withdrawing from the United States, the District of Columbia reverts into her possession under the supreme right of revolution. Here we have verge and scope enough for a civil war of five, ten. or twenty years duration. What for? To s
and equipping a large military force, the expense of which must be enormous, and will have to be paid by the people. And to do this, the taxes, already onerous enough, will necessarily have to be very greatly increased, and probably to an extent beyond the ability of the people to pay. 8. That the General Assembly, by passing a law authorizing the volunteers to vote wherever they may be on the day of election, whether in or out of the State, and in offering to the Confederate States the capitol of Tennessee, together with other acts, have exercised powers and stretched their authority to an extent not within their constitutional limits, and not justified by the usages of the country. 9. That Government being instituted for the common benefit, the doctrine of non-resistance against arbitrary power and oppression is absurd, slavish, and destructive of the good and happiness of mankind. 10. That the position which the people of our sister State of Kentucky have assumed in this
hands the executive, legislative, and judicial powers, which in every age have been the very evidence of despotism, and he exercises them to-day, while we sit in the Senate chamber, and the other branch of the Legislature at the other end of the capitol. Mr. President, what is the excuse — what is the justification,--necessity? I answer, first, that there was no necessity. Was it necessary to preserve the visible emblems of Federal authority here, that the Southern coast should have been blochis, we are on the eve of putting, so far as we can, in the hands of the President of the United States, the power of a dictator. With such a beginning as this, what are we to expect in the future? When we see men imprisoned within hail of the capitol, without warrant, and Congress in session, and the courts paralyzed, and Congress not rising in a protest of indignant terms against it, we may well be filled with gloomy forebodings for the future. What may we expect, except a line of conduct
r, distinct meaning have they? Are they not intended for disorganization in our very midst? Are they not intended to dull our weapons? Are they not intended to destroy our zeal? Are they not intended to animate our enemies? Sir, are they not words of brilliant, polished treason, even in the very Capitol of the Confederacy? [Manifestations of applause in the galleries.] The Presiding Officer (Mr. Anthony in the chair)--Order! Mr. Baker--What would have been thought if, in another Capitol, in another Republic, in a yet more martial age, a Senator as grave, not more eloquent or dignified than the Senator from Kentucky, yet with the Roman purple flying over his shoulders, had risen in his place, surrounded by all the illustrations of Roman glory, and declared that advancing Hannibal was just, and that Carthage ought to be dealt with in terms of peace? What would have been thought if, after the battle of Cannae, a Senator there had risen in his place and denounced every levy o
76. message of President Lincoln to the Federal Congress, 4th July, 1861. Once more, Representatives, Senators, all, You come to my Capitol, swift at my call. 'Tis well; for you've something important to do In this most disagreeable national stew; For since I came hither to run the machine, Disguised in Scotch cap and in full Lincoln green, There's the devil to pay in the whole d — d concern, As from Cameron, Seward, and Chase, you will learn; Yet, though every thing here of a burst — up gives warning, I'm certain you'll put it all right in the morning: So to do as I tell you, be on the alert, For the panic's fictitious, and nobody's hurt. I have started no war of invasion, you know; Let who will pretend to deny it — that's so; But I saw from the White House an impudent rag, Which they told me was known as Jeff. Davis' flag, A-waving above Alexandria high, Insulting my Government, flouting the sky; Above my Alexandria, (isn't it, Bates? Retrocession's a humbug; what rights have <
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