Chapter 5: secession.
The type of Major Jackson
's political opinions has been already described, as that of a States'-Rights' Democrat of “the most straitest sect.”
This name did not denote the attachment of those who bore it to the dogmas of universal suffrage and radical democracy, as concerned the State Governments
; but their advocacy of republican rights for these Governments, and a limited construction of the powers conferred by them on the Federal Government
Their view of those powers was founded on the following historical facts, which no well-informed American hazards his credit by disputing:--That the former colonies of Great Britain
emerged from the Revolutionary War
distinct and sovereign political communities or commonwealths, in a word, separate nations, though allied together, and as such were recognized by all the European
powers: That, after some years' existence as such, they voluntarily formed a covenant, called the Constitution of the United States
, which created a species of government resting upon this compact for its existence and rights; a government which was the creature of the sovereign States, acting as independent nations in forming it: That this compact conferred certain defined powers and duties upon the Central Government
, for purposes common to all the States alike, and expressly reserved and prohibited the exercise of all other powers, leaving to the States the management of their own
They, therefore, did not sacrifice their nature as sovereignties, by acceding to the Federal Union; but, by compact, they conceded some of the functions of an independent nation, particularly defined, to the Central Government
, retaining all the rest as before.
These facts and this inference were uniformly held by the Commonwealth
at all times, being solemnly asserted when she joined the copartnership, and frequently reaffirmed by her Government down to the present day. They were, in substance, embodied in the Constitution of the United States
itself, by a formal amendment, immediately after it went into effect.
Since the era of the elder Adams
, when the centralizing doctrine was utterly overwhelmed by the election of Mr. Jefferson
, they have been professed in theory, though often violated in act, by every Administration of whatever party it might be, and by nearly every State.
The party of the States'-Rights usually taught, from these principles, that the Federal Government
ought to continue what it was in the purer days of Washington
, unambitious in its claims of jurisdiction, simple and modest in its bearing, restricted in its wealth and patronage, and economical of expenditures, save in the common defence against external enemies.
They held that all acts of legislation which interfered with those functions appropriate to the States as Commonwealths, and all those acts which turned aside from the general interests common to the States alike, to promote particular or local interests, were partial, usurping, and in virtual violation of the spirit of the Constitution
Among these, they classed all bounty laws designed to favor the inhabitants of a section, all protective tariffs, the chartering of a vast Banking Corporation in one of the States, and all meddling with the institution of domestic slavery in the States.
They also held that the very Government, being the creation of commonwealths which acted as independent
nations in forming it, and originating in a covenant which they voluntarily formed as such, derived its whole authority from its conformity to the terms of that covenant: that, if the covenant were destroyed, the Government
was destroyed, and its rightful title to allegiance from any person was annihilated — that being gone which was the sole basis of it; and that, in the dernier ressort
upon any vital instance of usurpation, the States themselves must be the judges whether the covenant was destroyed, and judges too of the necessity and nature of their redress.
This right, to be. exercised, indeed, under those moral obligations which should govern all international intercourse, they held to be inherent in the States as originally sovereign; while to. suppose their federal compact divested them of it was preposterous, and what was, in the nature of the case, impossible.
It would represent their voluntary act in acceding to the covenant as a political suicide.
And it would have been equally preposterous for the Federal Constitution
formally to confer it; it would have been the absurdity of the offspring's attempting to confer on its own parent the rights of paternity.
Hence the absolute silence of the Federal Constitution
concerning this inalienable right of the States was logically consistent, and is as incapable of implying anything against, as for, its just exercise.
How natural and fair this construction is, may be shown by the argument of the great English moralist, Paley
, against the theory which founds the government of States over individuals upon the fiction of a social compact.
He reasons unanswerably, that if this were so, the violation of the original compact by the government of a commonwealth, in any one point, would destroy the binding force of that covenant on the other party, the citizen, and so annihilate all right to allegiance.
Whence we should reach the ruinous and absurd proposition, that any one unconstitutional act in the ruler would release every citizen, in the future, from all rightful
obligation to obey any law he enjoined, just or unjust.
The argument is perfectly sound against the theory of a social contract between individuals, because the government of a State over them is not founded on any such contract, but on the ordinance of God.
But in the case of the United States
the fact was precisely opposite, for the whole Central Government actually did originate avowedly in “a social contract,” to which the parties were States instead of persons.
So that Paley
's deduction is, in this case, perfectly true.
But its results are, here, in no wise absurd or disorganizing; because the creation of the Federal Government
did not originate a social order or civic life for the States, and its destruction, therefore, would not destroy nor even relax it. The jurisdiction of the States themselves — older and more sovereign societies, indestructible save by the hand of political murder from without-preserved and regulated the whole social order; and the few functions which had been by them lent to the Federal Government
, upon the fall of the latter, would not perish, but naturally revert to the States which had granted them.
In the integrity of their powers, therefore, was the civic life of the American
The conception which the fathers of the Federal Constitution
formed of their confederation, was that of a Common Agent
for the equal benefit of the parties confederated, exercising no powers except those derived from their consent, and. neither possessing nor needing any guarantee for those powers as against the parties, the States, save the obvious beneficence towards them of all its action.
The Union was not a prison owned by some despot, within which the unwilling inhabitants were to be kept by force, making residence there the infliction, and escape the privilege; it was to be the home, created for their common happiness by a family of freemen, where residence would be the privilege, and exclusion the penalty; where each member of the
brotherhood abode only because he chose to do so; and yet there was no danger that the membership would be prematurely dissolved, because the advantages of its just and beneficent rules would insure on the part of each member the desire to continue in it; and the threat of exclusion would be the sufficient discipline to reduce a capricious party to reason.
And such was the Federal Union during the life of its founders; a government more deeply seated in the love of its people, and therefore stronger than any in Christendom; more productive of public wealth and happiness in its action; weak for aggression against the rights of its citizens, yet powerful for their defence against external enemies.
In this point was intended to be the essential wisdom of its structure; that, being forbidden to enforce, by the strong hand, even its legitimate will (much more its illegal) upon the parties to it, the States, it was compelled to foster the motive for compliance by making its authority a minister of good only, and not of evil.
Thus did our patriotic fathers attempt to solve the problem, hitherto unsolved, of securing the freedom of the parts, and yet giving sufficient unity to the whole, for protection against unprincipled power from without.
Had all the parts possessed public virtue enough to understand and keep their obligations, the American Union would Have continued a great, because a benign government.
But with this great balance-wheel of free consent struck from its fabric, it became at once the most mischievous, cruel, and impracticable of all institutes, a centralized democracy, owning no law save the caprice of the numerical majority.
The States' Rights party could prove that their conception of the government was the true one, not only by the closest deduction of reasoning, but by notorious facts.
One of these was, that the framers of the Constitution
themselves left the Federal Government
unclothed with any powers of coercion over the
States, not from oversight, but of set purpose.
The proposal to give this power was made by one, and was rejected by the rest.
Il this, the men who were afterwards claimed as the leaders of the party of centralization, such as Alexander Hamilton
, agreed precisely with the men who thenceforward asserted the rights of the States, represented by Mr. Madison
All agreed in declaring, that to give such a power over States, was inconsistent with the nature of the government designed, would infallibly corrupt it, and would make it justly odious to the States, and impracticable to be maintained, save by the utter banishment of republican freedom out of the land.
What more complete proof is needed of this truth, than the fact displayed in 1861, that in the very attempt to coerce States, the Constitution
The Constitution was therefore, of purpose, left silent as to any such power; and on the completion of the document, the lack of it was expressly avowed in the words: “The powers not delegated to the United States
by the Constitution
, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”
Another fact was, that when the State of Virginia
, then the leading one in fame, power, and the ability of her statesmen, gave her reluctant and chary adhesion to the Federal Union, she coupled it, in the very act accepting the Constitution
, with this condition: that she should be for ever free to retract her adhesion, whenever she found the Union
inconvenient, of which juncture she was to be sole judge; and to resume her separate independence, unmolested.
Her reception upon these declared
terms, the only ones upon which she would have entered, was virtually a promise that her condition should be granted.
Nor was she the only State which made the same reservation.
New York and Rhode Island
, the latter the smallest, and the former the most powerful State, next to Virginia
, both ncv among the covenant-breakers, which are persecuting the Old Dominion with a malignant treachery, for claiming her covenanted right, accepted the Union
on the same condition.
Their admission on such terms not only seals their right to retire at their option, but also demonstrates that all the other States understood the compact as, of course, implying such a right.
The attempt has been made to break the force of this fact, by the miserable subterfuge: That Virginia, New York
, and Rhode Island
, only stipulated for this right to retire if they found the Union
inconvenient, because they feared it might prove a failure; and that since its splendid success, that condition had become antiquated, and expired.
It would be enough to expose this unprincipled sophism, to ask, how long a time might not be required to demonstrate that the Union
had been successful?
Do not the events which are now transpiring, keep that question yet in suspense: leading the most experienced minds in Europe
to doubt whether such a scheme of government is not impracticable?
But the very point of the stipulation made by Virginia
was, that she was to judge for herself, when, and how far, the Union
proved inadequate to confer those benefits she sought under it. And, if anything further is needed to explode the wretched pretext, it is found in the fact, that Virginia
has always taken express care that this condition in her covenant should not grow antiquated, by re-affirming it from time to time, to this day, in the most formal manner.
It is thus abundantly proved that the right of the States to retire from the Federal Union, when the compact was broken, was inherent in them; and that the Constitution
give nor take away this privilege.
The same thing appears equally from the manner in which the Colonies first acquired their independence.
Their revolution was a secession from the British Empire
They declared themselves to be the only rightful judges of its necessity.
So that every shadow of claim which they have to their present position is derived from the doctrine that the people of a commonwealth are entitled to change their form of government whenever they judge it necessary for their welfare.
Nothing, therefore, can be more monstrous than the attempt of the States of the North
to obstruct the exercise of this right by an inhuman war; when it is only by its exercise that they themselves exist.
Once more; the formation of the United States
under their present Constitution, was an act of secession from the confederation previously existing.
It was made all the more glaring by the fact, that the articles of Confederation had very recently been perfected, and had been accepted by all the States, with the express injunction-“And the Union
shall be perpetual.”
That confederation did not dissolve itself: it did not grant its members leave to desert it, and form a new combination; on the contrary, it claimed an immortal existence.
Yet one, and another, and another State deserted it to enter the new Union, when it saw fit; and one, Rhode Island
, did not transfer itself from the old compact to the new, for three years. Yet neither the new nor the old confederation dreamed of assailing the other: both recognized the sovereign rights of the States, to secede or to accede.
Accession to the new could only take place, by means of secession from the old Union; which had precisely the same claims to the adhesion of its members.
So that, when Washington
and his illustrious associates of the Convention
of 1787, proposed a new Constitution to the States they were proposing secession.
It is plain, then, that to speak of a State committing treason against the Government
of the United States
, is just as absurd as to describe a parent as being guilty of insubordination to his son. There might be injustice or violence; there could be no treason.
To speak of resistance organized by the sovereign States against the Federal Government
as rebellion, is preposterous.
It was just as easy for Great Britain
to rebel against Austria
, while they were members of the great coalition against Napoleon
He who pretends to liken the secession of Virginia
from the Union
, to a rebellion of the county of York
against the British
throne, a simile advanced by the chief magistrate
of the United States
himself, is either uttering stupid nonsense or profligate falsehood; for the relations in the two cases have no ground in common, on which the pretended analogy can rest.
What English county possessed sovereignty or independence, or in the exercise of such powers entered into any union or confederation?
It is objected again, that the admission of the right to retire from the Union
renders its authority a rope of sand, and its character as a government a mere simulacrum
, which dissolves at the first touch of resistance.
The triumphant reply of Virginians
is, that our State has always had this right as a condition of her membership in the Union
; and yet this Government was to her, for eighty years, anything else than a “rope of sand.”
It was a bond which held her for that period in firm affection and loyalty, which nothing but the most ruthless despotism could relax, which retained its strength even when it was binding the State
to her incipient dishonor and destruction.
It is a strange and disgraceful proposition to be asserted by Republicans, that no force is a real force except that which is sustained by an inexorable physical power.
It would seem that, with its assertors, honor, covenants, oaths, affections, enlightened
self-interest, are only a rope of sand.
The truth is, that the physical power of even the most iron despotisms reposes on moral forces, and if these are withdrawn from beneath, the most rigid tyranny becomes but a simulacrum
, which dissolves at the touch of resistance.
How much more, then, must all free governments be founded on the affections, the common interests, and the consent of the governed?
While the Government
of the United States
conciliated these, it was strong and efficient for good; when they were gone, it became impotent for good, and existed only for evil This was all the strength which its founders ever meant to assign it, or which its nature permitted; if this species of strength failed it, then that fact was the evidence that it had ceased to fulfil the purposes of its creation, and ought to perish.
It has been urged, that if the right be denied to the United States
to coerce a seceding State, it is equivalent to the absurd proposition, that the Union
never had any other title to the allegiance of any State than its own caprice chose to yield it; that unless the right forcibly to resist secession is granted to the former, the right to withdraw for any cause, or for no cause, is asserted for the latter.
was charged upon Mr. Buchanan
, the last President
of the United States
, when he ventured to reaffirm the established doctrine of the Constitution
, that it gave Congress no power to coerce a State.
Such pretended reasoners can never have heard of the well-known class of imperfect rights
in ethics; they cannot conceive that a suffering Christian may have a claim in morals upon the alms of his fellow-Christian, and yet not have a moral right to take relief by force of arms.
The right of the United States
to the adhesion of the States, while the compact with them was faithfully kept, was precisely one of these imperfect rights.
Their inherent right to withdraw for just cause, and to judge for themselves
when that cause exists, does not imply a right to withdraw for no cause, or for a trivial cause, any more than the fact that the Christian
must be left free in giving alms to the distressed, implies that he has a right to withhold alms from every person, however distressed.
It is asked what guarantee the Union
would then have against the secession of its members for trivial causes, or mere caprice?
The answer is: It would have as guarantee the force of public opinion, habits, and affections; and above all, the fact that in every capricious secession the larger share of the inconveniences would fall upon the seceding member.
If the Federal Government
were equitable and beneficent, this safeguard would be always omnipotent.
Akin to this is the objection, that if the Union
may not forcibly prevent the secession of a State, then it has no rightful mode of self-protection against any wrongful acts which the departing member may commit in her exit, such as appropriating the common property, or against any detrimental or even destructive use which she may make of her independence afterwards.
But is not this State, the moment she resumes her separate independence, bound by the comity of nations to her former partners, as any other nation is?
Just as any other independent neighbor may be required so to exercise its sovereignty as not to infringe the sovereignty of others, in the same way may she be, even by force of arms.
But then the coercion must be applied only to compel her to act as a just equal and neighbor; not to enforce by violence a union which, in its very nature, can only be voluntary.
The clamor concerning the inconvenience and loss which the remaining United States
experience by the just secession of a part, in the diminution of territory, departure from natural boundaries, severance of rivers and mountain chains, and interruptions of advantageous commerce, admits of an easy
answer to any honest mind.
In all this, the North
is but paying the righteous penalty of the wrongs which justify the secession of the South
If the former does not like the loss, why did it commit the crime?
Do the territories, the boundaries, the mountains, the rivers of Virginia
belong to her, or do they belong to a parcel of States without her, which never claimed to be more than her co-ordinates?
An excellent proof of the justice of all these reasonings may be seen in the fact, that the most of those politicians at the North
who now deny them, were the violent assertors of them, when they considered themselves aggrieved.
So obvious were they, that the most did not dare to deny their application to the Southern States
, in case they demanded the right of withdrawal.
The general opinion was, that in that case the Constitution
would require them to allow us to go in peace.
But after the thirst for plunder and revenge was awakened, and frantic passions had seized on the minds of the North
, all this was changed, and sophistical pretexts were sought for war.
Such were the doctrines which the party of the States' rights had always maintained, and to which Major Jackson
was committed by the firmest convictions.
If they appear to the reader to present the conception of a government very singular, very far removed from all European
ideas, or even very impracticable, still, if he has a particle of fairness of mind, he will see, at a glance, that his estimate of the government has nothing whatever to do with the righteousness or propriety of the action taken by the advocates of States' rights.
This species of federation, be it wise or foolish, good or bad, was the one to which they were actually bound in covenant.
This, and no other form of government, was what they had pledged themselves to obey.
In this way they had uniformly explained the obligations which they considered themselves as assuming.
This explanation had
been at first accepted by all parties; Virginia
, declaring it in the sovereign act by which she made herself a member of the Federal Union, and repeating it in her famous resolutions of 1798-99, had never ceased to reiterate her claims; and in this she had been followed by the other Southern States, her sisters and daughters.
Secession, then, was no dishonest after-thought, suggested by a growing sectional ambition, but the ancient, righteous remedy, to which the Southern States
were reluctantly driven, by a long course of treachery and oppression.
Ever since 1820, they had seen with grief that the true balance of the Constitution
was overthrown, the Government
centralized, and the rights of the States engrossed by the Federal Congress.
It was equally clear that the practical advantages of these usurpations were all inuring to the North
against the South
A bounty on fisheries was granted from the first, which was as plainly for the partial advantage of New England
, as though the tax-gatherer had, with his own hand, plucked the money out of the pockets of the rest of the citizens, to place it in theirs.
This bounty, varying from one to two millions annually, and continued for eighty years, will account for the transfer of many hundreds of millions to New England
from the other States.
The Northern were maritime States; the Southern
were, by population, climate, habits, and geographical position, inclined to agricultural pursuits.
A code of navigation laws was immediately passed, which operated as a perpetual tax on Southern industry, for the bribing of Northern adventure upon the seas.
Under the first President
, the Constitution
was violated by the assumption of a power in Congress to create an overshadowing Banking corporation,--with special privileges, within the territory of a State; and this bank being, moreover, immediately employed as the agent for funding and paying the Federal
debt contracted for
of Independence, at once, and irrevocably, removed the financial centre from the Southern States
, the richer portion, and paying the larger share of the taxes, to the poorer North
, which paid less.
A system of partial taxation by tariffs was also commenced, for a motive glaringly unconstitutional, namely, to foster local enterprises for home manufactures, seated almost exclusively in the Northern
and Middle States.
These tariffs were constantly pressed to a more exorbitant height, throwing millions of unequal burden annually upon the South
; and never for one moment were they removed, although sometimes they received a momentary and deceitful relaxation, when the South
seemed about to awake to a stern demand for justice.
But the chief sectional outrage was that aimed against the property of the Southern States
in the labor of the African race, held to servitude within them.
As soon as the Confederation began to acquire new territory, the Northern States
disclosed a fixed purpose of sectional aggrandizement therein, by means of the general and ignorant prejudice against the African race, and the institution of slavery.
labor unsuited to their climate, they had extinguished slavery among themselves from motives purely pecuniary, not generally by the emancipation of their slaves, but by selling them to the South
And the tendency of the landless population of Europe
to flow to the Western Continent
, showed them an indefinite supply of labor, population, and wealth; while a relative expansion of the Southern States
was absolutely forbidden by the extinction of the slave-trade; a measure in which the South
heartily concurred, against their obvious sectional interests, because of their conviction of the immorality of the traffic.
The plan of the North
was to engross the whole of the new territories for their population, by the exclusion of African
labor; and the contest, which began from the very first, was never relaxed.
But the South
was then too powerful to be oppressed with entire success.
After a threatening contest in 1820, concerning the admission of Missouri
as a slave State, she was received as such; but the South
unwisely permitted her entrance to be coupled with an enactment, that thenceforward all territory to the north of the Southern
boundary of that State, latitude 36° 30‘, must
be settled by white labor, while the remnant to the south of it might
be settled by slave-labor.
But in 1849, upon the acquisition of new territory from Mexico
, the State of California
was immediately closed against the South
, though lying in part south of that line; and the intention was boldly declared thenceforward to engross the whole territory for the North
So flagrant a wrong, coupled with the perpetual agitation of abolition in the States, and the perpetual, unrestrained theft of slaves by Northern interlopers, naturally inflamed the resistance of the South
to an alarming height.
After many discussions, a delusive pacification was made, chiefly through the influence of the veteran politician, Henry Clay
, and Senator Douglas
The sum of the measures adopted, under their advocacy at different times, was, that, on the one hand, the South
should acquiesce in engrossments of territory already committed, and that, on the other, laws should be passed, in accordance with the Constitution of the United States
, to prevent negro-stealing.
As to the territory yet lying unappropriated, the Missouri Compromise
(of 1820) was declared to be, as it was indeed, unconstitutional and null; and the apparently fair principle was adopted, of leaving the common territory open to immigration from all sections alike, and allowing the people settled there to decide for themselves, whether the State
which grew up should exclude African
labor or not. The latter subject was apparently disposed of in the Kansas
law, the favorite project of Senator Douglas
But no sooner was this law passed, than the South
while it “kept the word of promise to the ear,” it was designed “to break it to the sense.”
The whole free-soil party, a majority of the whole North
, openly proclaimed that they disdained to obey it; just as the whole Abolition party, now nearly a majority, defied the law against negro-stealing.
(Here was an instance of insubordination, sufficient of itself to justify the secession of the South
.) But more: under the Kansas
law, the practical question immediately emerged: How, and when, the people settling upon a common territory should exercise the discretion of determining whether African
labor should have place in the State
The one party, aptly called that of squatter-sovereignty, said that they should wield this power as soon as they began to assemble there.
This assured the victory in every case to the North
, because landless free labor will, of course, ever anticipate capital and slave labor in mobility.
The other party, including all the South
, said, with obvious truth, that the people of the new State could only exercise the power of deciding for or against the African labor, when they became a State, a true populus
, a full formed political society.
To claim the opposite, was to make the rights of American citizens-rights recognized by both State and Federal Constitutions — dependent on the caprice of any rabble of paupers, foreigners, and free negroes, the majority of whom would probably not be citizens at all, assembled by sufferance upon the common domain.
These territories, they argued, were the joint property of the United States
; and, therefore, while held as such, should be administered (as usual in the case of territories) by Congress, for the impartial benefit of all the owners.
No man becomes a citizen of the United States
, save as he is the citizen of some State.
To the citizens of all the States, therefore, those territories should belong; and whenever any of these chose to exercise his right of emigrating to a new
part of the common domain, it was the duty of Congress to follow his person and all his lawful possessions, with the impartial shield of legal protection.
The same equal measure should be meted out to the clock-factory of the Connecticut
man, and the African labor of the Carolinian, when transported to the common domain.
And this would not be intrusion into the sovereignty of a new State, as to its admitting or excluding African
labor; because the moment it becomes a State, Congress withdraws, and leaves it, if it sees fit, to expel every African
from its borders.
The South saw clearly enough, that if this just view prevailed, they would still win no practical gain but merely preserving their honor.
The emigration of white labor is mobile, quick, adventurous; that of the slave-owner is cautious, sensitive, and slow.
, by virtue of its actual numerical superiority, and its European
immigration, stood ready to pour in thousands, where the South
could only furnish hundreds, for the new lands.
The South had disinterestedly cut off its corresponding means of increase, by assenting to, and even demanding the extinction of the African slave-trade.
Hence, it well knew, that, in claiming the constitutional construction of the Kansas
law, it was making a demand which could save it nothing but its rights; and that, practically, every territory, fertile enough to be worth seeking, would henceforward be occupied by exclusive white labor, and belong to the North
They could justly inquire of the latter, “Why enforce a useless aggression, to win what is already virtually yours, where the only actual result is to fix a stigma of subjection upon us, your constitutional equals?
Is it to teach us significantly that henceforth we are to be your slaves?”
But the odious construction was generally adopted by the North
; and at length, even the author of the law, Senator Douglas
, deserted his own ground, and accepted it, becoming thus the leader of the larger number of Northern Democrats.
The long course of usurpation and aggression has now been traced near to its culminating point.
The lawless events in Kansas
helped to illustrate these differences, and to embitter the passions; but their description need not detain us. Meantime, the children of the South
may say with pride and truth, that, on their side, the covenant of the Confederation was always observed.
There have been at the South
many corrupt, and some factious persons.
Individuals have often asserted Southern rights in an intemperate, and sometimes in a wicked mode.
But it will ever remain the glory of the South
, that in no instance did any Southern State, or prevalent political party of the South
, ever commit itself to any usurpation of power, through the Federal Government
, to any sectional ends, or to any unconstitutional breach of the compact with the other sections, save perhaps in the instance of nullification — a defensive one.
Our detractors are defied to produce from history one exception to this illustrious record.
Moreover, although the South
knew that the Federal
institutions were all working partially, and against them, they constantly sustained the honor and common interests of the Confederation, with a loyalty unknown at the North
; pouring out their blood in every war, and perpetually contributing, from their scantier resources, the major part of the support of the Government
They were conservative by temper, and determined to be faithful to their engagements to the end.
The reader will now be prepared to understand the political conclusions adopted by Major Jackson
, in common with the most of his fellow-citizens.
Secession has been so often charged upon us as a grave crime, that the defence of his memory demands these explanations.
The chief lesson of his life would be neglected, were not the solution of the fact given,--that the purest and holiest of men became the hero of the war for
The statement has been insinuated that Jackson
was seduced by factitious influences into the advocacy of a cause condemned by his own conscience; but the assertion that he was capable of this is a slander equally against his head and his heart.
His political opinions were maturely formed, and were exceedingly fixed.
Few who witnessed the deferential silence with which he listened to the talk of more dogmatical acquaintances, were aware how distinct and firm his conclusions were.
He was pre-eminently given to forming his own resolves, especially upon every question of duty; and, even where he listened to advice, it was weighed with a sturdy independence equal to his politeness.
In 1856, the question of free-soil had assumed somewhat of its angry importance, and the defection of the professed supporters of the rights of the States at the North
had begun, under the pretext of squattersovereignty.
To the few friends to whom Jackson
spoke of his own opinions, he then declared that the South
ought to take its stand upon the outer verge of its just rights, and there resist aggression, if necessary, by the sword; that, while it should do nothing beyond the limits of strict righteousness to provoke bloodshed, yet any surrender of principle whatever, to such adversaries as ours, would be mischievous.
In the Fall
of 1859, the first angry drops of the deluge of blood which was approaching, fell upon the soil of Virginia
The event known as the John Brown Raid
occurred at Harper's Ferry
, in which that Border assassin endeavored to excite a servile insurrection and civil war, from that point.
He and all his accomplices, save one, were either slain, or expiated their crime upon the scaffold.
As his rescue was loudly threatened, a military force was mustered at Charleston
, the seat of justice for Jefferson county
, to protect the officers of the law in the exercise of their functions.
then had scarcely
any regular force, except the cadets of her military school.
They with their officers were accordingly ordered to this place; and Major Jackson
went with them, leading his battery of light pieces.
His command, while there, was conspicuous for its perfect drill and subordination; and he diligently improved their time, in manoeuvring them upon the roughest ground to be selected in that beautiful region.
He was a spectator of the stoical death of Brown
, and gave his friends a graphic account of the scene.
This mad attempt of a handful of vulgar cut-throats, and its condign punishment, would have been a very trivial affair to the Southern
people, but for the manner in which it was regarded by the people of the North
Their presses, pulpits, public meetings and conversations, disclosed such a hatred to the South
and its institutions, as to lead them to justify the crime, involving though it did the most aggravated robbery, treason, and murder; to deny the right of Virginia
to punish it; to vilify the State
in consequence with torrents of abuse perfectly demoniacal; to threaten loudly the assassination of her magistrates for the performance of their duty; and to exalt the blood-thirsty fanatic who led the party, to a public apotheosis.
The pretext for this astounding outrage upon public opinion was, that it was the right of masters to property in the labor of their slaves, which John Brown
sought to assail through this career of rapine and blood; a right, nevertheless, recognized by the laws of nearly every State in the Union
, when at least as virtuous and Christian as now; by the laws of Virginia
, and by the Federal Constitution
itself, to which all alike avowed a common allegiance.
And while this insult was eagerly given by every professed Abolitionist, they were seconded by so many of the free-soil party, that it was doubtful if the secret sympathizers did not constitute a majority of the Northern
When the people of the
South witnessed these things, it caused a shock of grief and indignation.
The most sober men saw in the event, insignificant in itself, a symptom of momentous importance, and recognized the truth that the grand collision was near at hand.
Loyalty to the Union
was, however, still unbroken; and the purpose was universal, to act only on the defensive, and to fulfil to the end every obligation of the Constitution
spent the summer vacation of 1860 in New England
, in the pursuit of health.
On his return, he said he had seen and heard quite enough in the North
, to justify the division which had just occurred in the Democratic party, and which resulted in the defeat of Douglas
and the election of Lincoln
; a division, he predicted, which would render the dissolution of the Union
This great schism among the Democrats was perfected in the spring of 1860, when they met in the city of Charleston, South Carolina
, in grand caucus
, to select a candidate for the office of President, to be presented for the votes of their party.
The two sections then pressed their rival interpretations of the Kansas
law, which had been left ambiguous by the similar caucus
, four years before.
The Democrats of the South
demanded that the party should propose no candidate, unless he held their view, that the people of a territory should not interfere with slavery in the public domains until they became a sovereign State; and that, meantime, African
labor and white labor should enjoy common and equal privileges.
The Democrats of the North
, with a few exceptions, boldly avowed the doctrine of. squatter-sovereignty.
Various attempts were made at conciliation, but the utmost which the Northern
party would concede was, a promise to abide by the decision which might be made upon that question afterwards, by the Supreme Court of the United States
This was rejected as nugatory, because that
Court had already decided, in the famous Dred-Scott
case, as in others, that the legislature of the settlers in a territory had no right to impair the property of citizens of the United States
in their slaves, residing among them; and that it was the duty of the Federal Government
, in all its departments, to protect these rights of its citizens.
If those partisans had ever intended to be governed by the authority of that pure and exalted tribunal, these questions would have been already settled for them; and the hope which they harbored was manifest, so to change the membership of that Court, in time, as to exact of it an ex parte
decision which would strip the South
of all legal defences.
After a stormy discussion and an adjournment to Baltimore
, the caucus
was severed into two fragments, of which the Southern
, with a few Northern Democrats, nominated John C. Breckinridge
, then the vice-President
; and the other, Senator Douglas
To the former of these, called Breckinridge Democrats, Major Jackson
adhered with his usual quiet decision, speaking little concerning his political opinions, save to a few intimates, but voting in every case for men of this shade of opinion.
Meantime the party of the free soil, or as they called themselves Republicans (impudently assuming the name of the party founded by Jefferson
, whose every principle in Federal politics they outraged!) nominated a purely sectional ticket, headed by Abraham Lincoln
Their opponents called them Black Republicans; aptly expressing at once their negrophilism, and the monstrous nature of their pretensions.
Their platform of principles embodied, on the old issues of politics, the most oppressive Federal usurpations; and on the question of the rights of the South
in the common domain (the territory out of which future States should be formed), roundly declared that the North
should henceforward engross absolutely the whole.
true that they proposed to appease the alarm of the South
, by declaring that the Federal Government
had no power to interfere directly with slavery in the States.
But how little solace any reasonable mind would discover in this deceptive pledge could be seen in the fact, that Mr. Lincoln
and Mr. Seward
, who, though not the candidate, was the coryphaeus
of the party, had declared that these United States
could not exist part free and part slave; that there was an irrepressible conflict between the two systems; and that slavery in the States must therefore be put under a process of extinction.
He was simply a fool who could not see what all this meant in the mouths of the advocates of a pretended “higher law;” which these men interpreted into a license to violate their own official oaths, and to disobey the precepts of a constitution they had sworn to support, where they were adverse to their prejudices; while they swallowed its emoluments, and enforced the parts advantageous to themselves against their fellow-citizens with unrelenting rigor; and all under pretence of conscience for God's revealed law. This doctrine Mr. Seward
had openly proclaimed from his place as a Senator; and it had been generally accepted as the ethics of the party.
The whole amount of the guarantee which the Lincoln
platform gave the South
was, that the Black Republicans
, if victors, would refrain from issuing an immediate edict of abolition, in glaring violation of the Constitution
But, after depressing and weakening the South
for a few years, by other usurpations and exactions, and plying against slaveholders all the artillery of Federal power, it was expected that she would become too weak to resist an amendment of that Constitution, laying all her rights at the feet of the tyrant section.
Indeed, this plan was everywhere proclaimed by the populace, more candid than their demagogues.
Another significant fact was that the open Abolitionists, who had previously run their own
candidate for President
, giving him at each quadrennial period a small, but increasing vote, now went over in a body to the support of Lincoln
The result of the election, held in November, 1860, was that Lincoln
by a vote of the States strictly sectional (i. e
., not a single State in the South
voted for him), and in the North
he failed to carry New Jersey
Of the popular vote he received about 1,800,000, while Douglas
received about 1,276,000, and Mr. Breckinridge
The Whig party, retaining their old organization, cast about 735,000 votes for Senator Bell
Thus the popular vote for Lincoln
included less than half of all the citizens; and that for Douglas
, if joined to that for Mr. Breckinridge
, would have been larger than the vote for Lincoln
But this fact brought no consolation to the South
The party of squatter-sovereignty in the North
had also become manifestly a free-soil party.
It was true they used the delusive catch-word of non-intervention with slavery; and adduced the specious plea of “popular sovereignty” to cloak the odious pretension, that an accidental rabble of adventurers, who might probably not be citizens at all, should overstep the sacred authority of Constitution, Congress, Supreme Court, and sovereign States, to trample upon a right of recognized citizens.
Their cry of “no intervention either way,” was explained by them to mean, that Congress should become derelict to its positive duty of protecting everywhere the equal rights of all the citizens, in order that a mob might be free to intervene, most fatally, against a part.
They openly argued at home that their scheme was the more politics because it effectually deprived the South
of every inch of the common domain, while it was better concealed against constitutional objections.
The South perceived it to be, in the strong phrase of one of her
statesmen, “but a short cut to all the ends of the Black Republicans
During the canvass, many patriotic voices were raised at the South
, and a few at the North
, in solemn remonstrance.
Our enemies were reminded that Washington
, and the other fathers of the Government
, had predicted, that the triumph of a sectional party in the Confederation would be the knell of its existence; and that their own best statesmen had declared the South
neither would nor could remain in the Union
, under a domination so utterly subversive of the objects of the Union
But such was the temper of the Northern
people, that warnings only inflamed their arrogance.
And when they ascertained that they had elected their candidate, they burst forth, in belief of their irresistible power, into declarations of purposes of usurpation and tyranny so monstrous, that many just men at the North
wrote eagerly to their Southern friends, to hasten and seek their only safety in a separate independence.
In the South
, at a distance from these scenes, few indeed comprehended their full danger, but all were painfully aroused, and many prepared for immediate defence.
At the head of the latter was the State of South Carolina
Immediately after Lincoln
's election was known, her Legislature called a sovereign convention of the people, which, on the 20th of December, 1860, formally retracted the connexion of the State
with the Union
, and resumed its independence.
This action was had without discussion, and with perfect unanimity; the people of that State were convinced that the season for discussion had passed, and the season for action had arrived.
But, in all the other Southern States, while there was no respectable party anywhere which wavered in the purpose of vigorous resistance, there was a division of opinion concerning the time and mode of commencing it, denoted by the terms, Separate
Secession, and Co-operative Secession
The advocates of the former prevailed at first in the planting States, bordering upon the Gulf of Mexico
; of the latter, in the States lying next to the Free States
, and in Virginia
With these Major Jackson
Although this class of patriots embraced many shades of opinion, their distinctive views were these:--That while the sectional action, and especially the temper of the Northern
people, would justify before God and man an immediate separation, yet it was not politic to make it upon this provocation, because the South
was so unprepared for that tremendous war which would probably follow.
It was further contended that it would give her enemies the pretext — unfair, indeed, yet plausible — to rob her of a part of her moral strength, by charging her with a factious appeal from the polls to violence, prompted only by the loss of the powers and emoluments of office: That, inasmuch as this iniquitous election was yet made under the forms of the Constitution
, it would be better to await the first aggression which plainly violated it, in form as well as in fact, and make that the signal of resistance: That the power of our enemies dictated the necessity of acting only in concert, so that the Southern
cause might possess the full strength arising from the union of all these States: And that, since the collision of one with the Federal Government
would inevitably decide the question of peace or war for all, and no State would stand idly, and see her Southern sisters crushed in detail by the common enemy, however erring by a generous precipitation, both courtesy and justice required that they should only act in concert.
The advocates of immediate separate secession replied, that this act was, in its nature, that of a State acting sovereignly, and therefore singly: That, although the South
was unprepared, yet it was best to act at once, because the time consumed in consulting and preparing, would be so improved by our enemies in the
work of corrupting, intimidating, and encroaching, with all the potent enginery of the Federal Government
in their hands, that the South
would soon be disabled for any resistance: That, if action were postponed until full concert were secured, it would be postponed indefinitely; the partial apathy of the people under so many wrongs, having shown that nothing would effectually rouse them except the precipitating of the issue: And that the South
had nothing to fear, because the unwarlike character of the North
would deter them from attacking a chivalrous and determined people, and the preciousness of the Southern
commerce would speedily procure from abroad potent mediation.
It is plain, also, that some of the Carolinians were not unwilling to seize that accidental power, of committing their neighbors to a forcible resistance without asking their assent, which has been explained above; and therein they gave serious offence to many of their friends in Virginia
It is not important that the historian should decide whether the advocates of immediate or of co-operative secession were right.
The purpose to coerce South Carolina
illegally was, at once, indicated by the retention of the strongest work commanding her chief city and harbor, Fort Sumter
; and the manner in which this threatening act was accompanied, aggravated the indignation of the people.
On the 9th of January, 1861, Mississippi
left the Union
followed on the 11th; Georgia
on the 20th; Louisiana
on the 26th; and Texas
on the 1st of February.
On the 9th of February, a Provisional Government of the six seceding States was instituted at Montgomery, in Alabama
, with Jefferson Davis
, and Alexander H. Stephens
Meantime the border Slave States, headed by Virginia
, while declaring that they would not remain passive spectators of an attempt to chastise the seceding States for thus exercising their
unquestionable right, continued in the Union
, and made strenuous efforts at conciliation.
The General Assembly of Virginia
proposed a conference of the Free
and Slave States by their ambassadors, to devise some terms of mutual concession.
This body met in Washington
, February 4th, and the members of Congress from the Border States
continued their anxious exertions to mediate in the Federal Legislature.
But every attempt was utterly vain.
No sooner had the Peace Conference, as it was called, assembled, than it was found that the Commissioners
from the North
, instead of coming with the moderate and dispassionate wisdom of statesmen, to heal the wounds of their country, were as full of the virus
of party as the demagogues who had led the popular elections.
Nothing was done, save to devise a deceptive compromise to be recommended to the Congress
,--a compromise so worthless, that the larger number of the Southern Commissioners
refused to accept it. But even this the Congress
, now under the domination of a Black Republican majority, disdained to grant, and almost to notice.
The Legislature of Virginia had also called together a Convention of the people, containing delegates from every city and county.
So far was it from the purpose of the people to precipitate themselves rashly into violent measures, that when this Convention met, only about twenty-five of its members advocated immediate secession.
The remainder (with the exception of a few, who afterwards disclosed their original slavish intentions by their treason) were, on the one hand, unwilling to sacrifice the last hope of peace, until driven to self-defence by intolerable usurpations, but, on the other, resolved to maintain the rights of the South
intact, and to resist every attempt of the United States
to coerce the seceders by unconstitutional violence.
Their expectation of being able to remain in the Union
was slight, but they were resolved that the guilt of extinguishing this spark of hope, and compelling a
separation, should rest upon their assailants.
To this number adhered Major Jackson
, with the larger part of the Christian
people of the State
, of all political parties.
They had hailed the assembling of the Peace Conference with a gleam of hope, but when its consultations ended so abortively, nearly all accepted the stern conclusion, that nothing remained except that alternative between base submission or resistance, in which no honest man ever hesitates.
Still, they were reluctant to despair of the Union
They appreciated the infamy which would attach to the Christianity of America
, if, after all its boasts of numbers, power, influence, and spirituality, it were found impotent to save the country from fratricidal war. Their cry was, “Christians to the rescue” They asked: Should there not be enough of the power of love in these millions of the professed servants of the Prince
of Peace, to renew the bonds of friendship; to say to the tempests of passion, “Peace, be still;” to keep down the hands which sought their brothers' throats, and rather to receive the sword into their own bosoms than allow their common country to be slain?
They said, as long as there was a spark of life, yea, even though it were uncertain whether this spark was but an illusion, it would be better to wait till it was extinguished by necessity, than incur all the miseries of the extreme remedy, when it was possible that they might afterwards be haunted by the remorseful discovery, that it was invoked without sufficient cause.
They determined that the mountainous aggregate of crime and woe which impended-of a ruined Constitution, of cities sacked, of reeking battle-fields, of scattered churches, of widowed wives and orphaned children, of souls plunged, unprepared, into hellshould not be chargeable to them.
None strove more earnestly to deprecate the crime than Major Jackson
A month before the catastrophe, he called upon his pastor, and spoke substantially
as follows:--“If the general Government should persist in the measures now threatened, there must be war. It is painful to discover with what unconcern they speak of war, and threaten it. They seem not to know what its horrors are. I have had an opportunity of knowing enough on the subject, to make me fear war as the sum of all evils.
Should the step be taken which is now threatened, we shall have no other alternative; we must fight.
But do you not think that all the Christian
people of the land could be induced to unite in a concert of prayer, to avert so great an evil?
It seems to me, that if they would unite thus in prayer, war might be prevented, and peace preserved.”
To this his pastor promptly assented, and promised to do what he could to bring about the concert of prayer he proposed.
“Meantime,” said he, “let us agree thus to pray.”
And henceforward, whenever he was called on to lead the devotions of others, one petition prominently presented and fervently pressed, was, that God would preserve the whole land from the evils of war.
Between the leading Christians of the North
and those of Virginia
, several pacific communications passed, to some of which Jackson
's name was appended, although with but faint hope of good results.
On the Northern
side, the actors were either impotent to carry out the fraternal feelings which they professed, against the prevalent fury, or else their overtures were only like the deceitful caresses with which the driver soothes a restless horse, while the harness is fastened on his neck.
It was clearly perceived, that while these smooth-sounding missives were sent, invoking the Christian
forbearance of the South
, it was expected that all the forbearance should be on that side; and not one of the pacificators had the honesty or courage to propose that the simple expedient should be tried, for healing the unholy strife, of yielding to the South
her just rights.
meetings of sympathy were held for Southern wrongs, no practical measure was taken, and Black Republican majorities increased at every election.
But the Christian
people of Virginia
strove to avert the storm with a generous sincerity, more glorious than their subsequent heroism in breasting it. Their influence was felt in the magnanimous efforts of the old Commonwealth to stand in the breach between the angry elements.
They entreated her to endure wrongs, until endurance became almost a vice, to hold out the olive-branch after it had been spurned, to study modes of compromise and conciliation, until the verge of dishonor was touched, to refuse to despair of the Republic
when hope had departed from all others, and to decline even acts of self-defence, which might provoke collision, until the cloud had risen over her very head.
So reluctant was Virginia
to behold the ruin of the Union
she had so loyally adorned, that many of her sons and her allies were driven almost to fury by the nearness of the danger, and the taunts of her enemies.
But these were madly hurrying to take upon their own heads all the guilt of the giant crime, and thus to unite Virginia
as one man, and render her justification as clear as the sunlight.
The State of South Carolina
had been soliciting, first of Mr. Buchanan
and then of Lincoln
, an equitable settlement of all questions in dispute between her as an independent power, and the Federal Government
Especially had she demanded that Fort Sumter
, the only post in her territory held by that Government, should be restored to her on the obviously just ground, that being designed only for her local protection against foreign aggression, when she relieved the central administration of that function, it had no longer any concern in her fortresses.
The attempt was made, first, to amuse and deceive her ambassadors, by declarations which cannot be correctly named by any
term short of this — that they were a series of reiterated falsities, uttered by the Secretary of State
; and this attempt at official treachery was rendered more loathsome by his ingeniously prostituting the sanctity of the ermine of the Supreme Court, to give credit to his assurances.
But, on the 8th of April, a powerful armament being ready to reinforce the intrusive garrison of Fort Sumter
, the mask was removed, and the Governor
of South Carolina
was bluntly informed that it should be done, “peaceably if they could, forcibly if they must.”
The Confederate authorities had not been hoodwinked; and they proceeded, on the 12th and 13th of April, to reduce the post by their forces under General Beauregard
Thus the Federal Government
assumed the guilt of the first military aggression.
But they did not stop here: on April 14th, Lincoln
made a proclamation, without the authority of a shadow of law from Congress, declaring war against South Carolina
and the Confederate Government, and calling upon the States for seventyfive thousand soldiers to invade them.
The Governors of all the Southern States
, except Maryland
, refused compliance.
all remains of hesitation were instantly extinguished; the Convention
, which was in session, on the 17th of April, passed an ordinance resuming the separate independence of the State
; and the Governor
immediately began to prepare for war. On the fourth Thursday of May, at an election held with perfect respect for the freedom of opinion, the people of Virginia
ratified this separation almost unanimously, except in a part of the north-western counties, where the intrusion of a foreign element had corrupted the public sentiment.
was recognized on all hands as the leader of the border Slave States.
Her enemies evidently mistook her magnanimous forbearance and struggles for peace, as signs of conscious weakness.
They said, the old “Mother of States and
statesmen” was decrepit, that her genius was turned to dotage, that her breasts were dry of that milk which suckled her Henrys and Washingtons.
They thought her little more than a cowering beldame, whom a timely threat would reduce to utter submissiveness.
And thus they dared to stretch over her head the minatory rod. But when the tyrant tried the perilous experiment, he was startled by a result as unexpected as that which followed the touch of Ithuriel's spear.
She, whom he thought a patient, hesitating, helpless paralytic, flamed up at the insolent touch, like a pyramid of fire, and Virginia
stood forth again in her immortal youth, the unterrified Commonwealth of 1776, a Minerva radiant with the terrible glories of policy and war, wielding that sword which ever flashed before the eyes of her aggressors, the “Sic semper Tyrannis.
The point of farthest endurance was at length passed; her demands for constitutional redress were all refused; her too generous concessions of right, met by a requisition for the unconditional surrender of honor and dignity; her forbearance abused to collect armaments and equip fortresses on her borders, and on her own soil, for her intimidation; the alternative forced upon her, either to brave the oppressor's rod, or to aid him in the destruction of her sisters and children, for no other cause than that they contended nobly, if too rashly, for rights common to them and her; and to crown all, the Constitution of the United States
was rent in fragments by the assumption of the President
to levy new forces, to wage war, without authority of any law of Congress, and to coerce sovereign States into adhesion, in the utter absence of all intentions and powers to that effect, in the Federal
Hence, except in the breast of a few traitors, there was now but one mind and one heart in Virginia
In one week, the whole State was converted into a camp, and the
gauntlet of deathless resistance was flung back with high disdain.
The world has learned to consider Jackson
as the hero of the Virginia
The Commonwealth is proud to accept him as her representative man, and the attitude which he held was the true type of hers; as he stood conscientious, cautious, but fearless, pure and unselfish in motive, elevated in principle, with an eye raised in religious faith to the righteous heavens, awaiting the signal from the Divine approval for his resistance, profoundly sad for the mournful necessity, yet as sternly resolved to defend the right.
In all classic and sacred story, there is no spectacle more affecting and sublime than that presented by this Christian man, and his Christian people, in this emergency.
They did not share the delusion, cherished by many of the immediate Secessionists, that the North
would be restrained from striking; but they knew the history of passion and fanaticism enough to expect a fearful war. They saw the mighty beast gathering his forces for the bound upon his prey, yet they calmly stepped before his jaws.
How grandly does the action of Virginia
contrast with that of Maryland
, which, professing attachment to the right, subsided into a pitiful “neutrality,” that was, in fact, slavish co-operation with their enemies; the one, on the plea that the military highway to the tyrants' capital lay through her heart; and the other, on the ground that one-third of her border was only separated by a great river from the assailants!
The defection of Kentucky
exposed on three sides to her invaders, and one of these the sea, vexed with the countless keels of the enemy; while his mercenaries had stolen, and now held her greatest place of arms, Fortress Monroe
, which commanded the approach to the wharves of her chief sea-port and her capital city.
Her border lay under the muzzles of the cannon which
frowned from the ramparts of Washington
, and it was plain.
to friend and foe, thai her smiling fields must be the chief arena
for trampling armies.
But these men did not quail on account of this; having taken counsel only of God and the right, Virginia
stepped into “the imminent deadly breach,” baring her own fair bosom to the fiercest strokes of the swords lifted against her sisters.
History will some day place the position of these Confederate States
, in this high argument, in the clearest light of her glory.
The cause they undertook to defend was that of regulated, constitutional liberty, and of fidelity to law and covenants, against the licentious violence of physical power.
The assumptions they resisted were precisely those of that radical democracy, which deluged Europe
with blood at the close of the eighteenth century, and which shook its thrones again in the convulsions of 1848; the agrarianism which, under the name of equality, would subject all the rights of individuals to the will of the many, and acknowledge no law nor ethics, save the lust of that mob which happens to be the larger.
This power, which the old States of Europe
expended such rivers of treasure and blood to curb, at the beginning of the century, had transferred its immediate designs across the Atlantic
, was consolidating itself anew in the Northern States
, with a wealth, an organization, an audacity, an extent, to which it never aspired in the lands of its birth, and was preparing to make the United States
, after crushing all law there under its brute will, the fulcrum whence they should extend their lever to upheave every legitimate throne in the Old World.
Hither, by emigration, flowed the radicalism, discontent, crime, and poverty of Europe
, until the people of the Northern States
became, like the rabble of Imperial Rome
, the colluvies gentium
. The miseries and vices of their early homes had alike taught them to mistake license for liberty, and they were incapable of
comprehending, much more of loving, the enlightened structure of English or Virginian freedom.
The first step in their vast designs was to overwhelm the Conservative States
of the South
This done, they boasted that they would proceed, first, to engross the whole of the American
continent, and then to emancipate Ireland
, to turn Great Britain
into a democracy, to enthrone Red Republicanism in France
, and to give the crowns of Germany
to the Pantheistic humanitarians of that race, who deify self as the supreme end, and selfish desire, as the authoritative expression of the Divine Will
This, in truth, was the monster whose terrific pathway among the nations, the Confederate States
undertook to obstruct, in behalf not only of their own children, but of all the children of men.
To fight this battle, eleven millions, of whom four millions were the poor Africans
, lately feeble savages, prepared to meet twenty millions.
The gigantic adversary was not impeded by distance, but lay everywhere alongside his proposed victim, ready to grasp him with his long arms.
He held prepared, a veteran army of twenty thousand men, a navy, and vast arsenals and armories; while the Confederate States
had everything to create.
He had the administration of all the departments of a government; he had revenues, a treasury recruited perpetually with the gold of the modern Ophir
, and huge accumulations of financial wealth: they had none.
In his favor was a great commercial marine, second to none in the world, and manufactories teeming with productive labor fostered by the previous oppression and taxation of the South
; while she had agricultural communities, possessing only the rudiments of commerce and of the arts.
And to sustain these elements of Northern power, there was the well-known pertinacity of the Yankee
character, infuriated now by a sectional hatred all the more incredible because unprovoked, and by a fanaticism set on fire of hell.
But had this been all the odds which the Confederate States
had to meet, their prowess would, before this, have ended the contest.
The ships of the Federals
, availing themselves of the avarice and injustice of Europe
, made all the workshops, shipyards, and factories of the Old World tributary to their malice.
The radicals, the proletaires
, the robbers, the outlaws, of all other lands, flocked to their standards, taught by their ready instincts that their cause was the same.
One-half of the prisoners of war, registered by the victorious armies of the South
, have been foreign mercenaries.
Mr. Smith O'Brien
, warning his race against the unhallowed enterprise, declares that the Moloch of Federal ambition has already sacrificed two hundred thousand Irishmen to it. And still, as the flaming sword of the South
mows down these hireling invaders, fresh hordes throng the shores.
Last, our country has to wage this strife, only on these cruel terms, that the blood of her chivalrous sons shall be matched against the sordid streams of this cloaca populorum
. In the words of Lord Lindsay, at Flodden Field
, we must play our “Rose Nobles of gold, against crooked sixpences.”
So that the Confederate States
, while, in truth, fighting for the cause of the world, have the whole world to fight against.
But how has their heroism been regarded from without?
It must be declared (and this fact completes the grandeur of their attitude), that while thus bleeding for the common behoof of mankind, they have received aid from none, even idle sympathy from few, and only neglect and injustice from the governments of Europe
Men have seen fit to adopt the slanders of our known enemies as the only description of our institutions, and have refused us the poor privilege which even the criminal has, of being heard before he is condemned.
The word slave-owner
has been the talisman to evoke everywhere an ignorant prejudice,
too conceited to learn correction; and men have been willing to accept the rendering which it suits the malice of our enemies to give, falsely, as they know — that we are contending, not to preserve our own freedom, but to perpetuate the bondage of our fellow-men, unjustly enslaved.
It is by this device our enemies have sought to hide the enormity of their attacks, and to rob us of even the sympathy of mankind.
The Confederate States
have, indeed, never complained of the refusal of aid to fight their battles, for they have never asked it. But they have a right to complain, that the interested slanders of their enemies should be echoed abroad without even examination; that the moral support of a recognition should be withheld, when it is a historical fact that the independence of several of those same States was recognized by all Europe
eighty years ago, and, as is known to all the world, has never since been forfeited; that the maritime law, so recently and solemnly established for all nations, should be compelled to receive a new and deceitful interpretation for the benefit of our enemies, the moment it began to apply in our favor; and that a pretended neutrality should be so observed, as to make every advantage accrue to them.
The people of the South
well know, that, if they are overwhelmed, the greedy democracy, whose threats have exacted from the European
governments these shabby compliances, will make them in due time rue their short-sighted injustice; but this is the concern of their people; ours is to endure, and to strive to the death.
The great career of Jackson
is identified with the cause of Southern independence.
To this he committed himself with solemn prayers and searchings of heart, ready, if he should die in this quarrel, to present his soul confidently before the judgment-bar, and ask the Divine approval.
In it he wrought all his world-famous exploits.
In it he died, professing in the last struggle the same confidence in the righteousness of the war.
If then the secession of Virginia
was a crime, Jackson
was the most amazing of self-deceivers, or the most profound of hypocrites.
Therefore, his character cannot be appreciated, nor its fame receive its just estimate from history, without a full understanding of the merits of the case.
This is the reason that the reader's attention has been so largely occupied with an exposition of it, and for this reason he is besought to weigh these concluding arguments.
, The most determined anti-slavery man, if he have fairness of mind, will grant, when he understands the case, that African
slavery is not the cause, but only the occasion, of the Southern
The cause for which this people contend is constitutional right.
It is but a circumstance that the right to the labor of their slaves happened to be the particular in which the sacred authority of law was assailed; and it may be asked, How can it appear that the object of the South
was to perpetuate the bondage of the African, unless it appear that the object of Northern aggression was to end that bondage?
But the Black
Republican party expressly declared, that they proposed no interference with slavery in the States.
Their defenders can only rescue them from this logical dilemma, by imputing to them deliberate falsehood on this point.
They only proposed to limit the African population to its present home, so that their policy would not have made one slave less in all America
, unless by so enhancing the miseries of their condition as to exterminate a part.
Nor would the demand of the South
, that the African race should be allowed to labor in the new domain, if granted, have made one slave more in all America
, unless it had done it by ameliorating their condition, so as to save some alive who otherwise would have perished.
Clearly, then, the policy of free-soil was not friendship to the black man, but only enmity to his white protector, and desire to rule over him.
But further, Black Republicanism is a system of intense hostility to the African race.
Its inconsistency can only be equalled by its inhumanity.
It persists in saying, contrary to the Constitution of the United States
, that the African is a citizen of the Union
; but it forbids these black fellow-citizens to enjoy the common territory in any form.
It says they must not come as slaves, in the mode best adapted to their present welfare (as the most of the Black Republicans
admitted). It says also, that they must not come as free negroes; for every Black Republican State, formed out of the national territory, with perhaps a single exception, has legislated sternly and absolutely against the immigration of this unfortunate class; and, of course, new States to be formed under the same creed, may be expected to do the same.
In a word, Black Republicanism always means, that the African shall not exist at all on American soil.
The uniform shibboleth
of the party was the assertion, that this continent must belong exclusively to the white race.
The proposal universally made by its demagogues to the agrarian hordes whom they deceived, was not: “Let us overthrow the institutions of the South
, in order that you may share its industry with free negro competitors;” but, “Let us overthrow the institutions of the South
, in order that you may exclude the negro from its industry, and take his place.”
If they were pointed to the wretched and waning caste of free blacks in the North
, as proof that this race cannot thrive in competition with the whites, without the protection of domestic slavery, and asked what was to be the destiny of the millions of Africans, when their policy of freesoil was everywhere established; the usual answer was a sardonic shrug, and the sneering declaration, that this was no concern of theirs.
Others, more candid, pointed for answer, to the fate of the Indian
tribes, who have wasted to nothing before the greater energies and crimes of the white race; and coolly
said, that the Africans, deprived of the fostering shield of that southern slavery, under which they were now thriving so happily, must tend to extinction, under the pressure of their own miseries and degradation; and then the whole Union would be free, prosperous, and glorious, (?) belonging to the white man alone.
Such was the hideous meaning of Black Republicanism, to oppress and enslave the humane master, in order to exterminate the contented and comfortable servant!
Any honest man, who has been so unlucky as to imbibe the false dogma, that the relation of master and slave is essentially unrighteous, will therefore admit, if he knows the truth, that the citizen of the Confederate States
is not contending, in this quarrel, to perpetuate an unjust oppression.
He will say: “Be the relation wrong as it may, it was not instituted by the Confederates
, nor at their option, but by the greed of the Federal
slave-traders, and the tyranny of Great Britain
, thrusting the Africans upon the unwilling colonies.
These citizens found it existing, recognized by the laws, guaranteed by the Constitution
which the people of the North
were pledged to observe, and which alone gave them any right to legislate for the South
It was, therefore, natural, yea right, that they should resist these usurpations; and the more, as they saw that the motive was, not to exalt the slave, but to oppress the master; to trample upon the liberties of the latter, in order to visit upon the former, a fate a thousandfold worse than slavery — lingering extermination.”
But every citizen of the Confederate States
, in the second place, like General Jackson
, would disdain to argue this cause from the premiss, that the relation of the master to his slave is unrighteous in itself.
They assume the high position that this relation is, for their circumstances, as innocent and lawful in itself as any other relation of government, and recognized as
such by God and sound ethics, as well as by all the laws of their country.
When pointed to the almost universal condemnation of this proposition by the rest of Christendom, they boldly declare, that this results from an exclusion of the Southern
people from a hearing in their own defence, and a perverse and indolent reception from their enemies, of the most monstrous tissue of slanders and falsehoods, which ever confounded a human mind.
The world has been told a myriad times until the world believes it, that Virginian slavery makes a human being a chattel, a piece of property, thus violating the first intuitions of justice.
Yet, all this is absolutely false; every slave-law of Virginia
treats the slave as a person, a responsible, reasonable being, and not a thing; the only property which the laws recognize in him, is the property in his involuntary labor.
And if the involuntary labor of a human being cannot be property, then every parent, husband, and master of an apprentice, in the civilized world, is made a transgressor.
It is uniformly asserted that slavery proceeds upon the assumption that it is the master's privilege to expend and exhaust the labor, welfare, and very being of his fellow-man, for his own selfish behoof, without equivalent; and that hence, it is a flagrant violation of that great law of love and equity, the golden rule.
All this is alsolutely false: this form of servitude is defended only on the ground, demonstrated so fully by experience, that it secures for the servant the greatest practicable amount of well-being.
The laws all make the duties and benefits of the relation reciprocal, and oblige the master to render to his servant a liberal return for his labor, in the form of a life-long maintenance of himself and his family, secured against every contingency of decrepitude and sickness; just as much as they oblige the servant to render his labor to his master.
That this is, in the general, a better recompense than the
could win as a free negro, is the justification always pleaded.
It has been charged that Virginian slavery makes the master the irresponsible possessor of the chastity of the female slave.
This is again an absolute falsehood; the law fences around the chastity of the servant, even against the violence of her own master, by the same sanctions which protect that of the white lady.
It has been charged that the laws of Virginia
forbid the slave to lift his hand for the defence of life or limb, in obedience to the instincts of self-preservation, against any white man. This is absolutely false; while the laws require the servant to accept the chastisement of his master, they recognize in him the same discretion of self-defence, even against his owner, when assailed in life and limb, which is granted to the white freeman.
It has been said that we prohibit the slave all access to letters, and do not permit him to learn to read even the book of life.
This, again, is unmingled falsehood; there is no law in Virginia
, forbidding a master to teach his slaves literature; and as many of them can read, and do read God's Word, as of the agricultural peasantry of boasted England
It has been said that Virginian slavery forbids the marital and parental relations among slaves, consigning them to a brutal concubinage, like that of animals.
In the sense charged, this is absolutely false; conjugal and parental bliss is as much recognized, and as little interrupted among them, as among any people of the same civilization.
It has been said that their discipline and treatment are inhuman.
This is transcendently false.
No peasantry on earth is treated with as much humanity, and bears tasks so light.
There are instances of barbarity, even of murder; but they are punished by the laws and public opinion, at least as regularly as any crimes against free persons in this country.
Are there no cases of wifemurder, and child-murder, in New and Old England?
asserted, in ten thousand forms, that slavery has degraded the African; but this is also false: it has civilized and elevated him, more rapidly than any other philanthropy has raised any pagan race in the world.
This introduces the affirmative truth, that the relation of servitude is a righteous, because a beneficent one, for the African among white men. Let the tree be known by its fruits.
It has conferred a higher physical well-being than is enjoyed by any other laboring population, as is proved by their increase of numbers, cheerfulness, and immunity from bodily infirmities.
The Virginian servant is lifted in the scale of manhood so high above his fellows of the African wilds, that, when by rare chance he meets them, he is ashamed and indignant at the assertion of a community of race.
American servitude has made nearly half a million out of four millions (one in eight) members of Christian churches, from being, three generations ago, besotted Pagans.
All the Christian
philanthropy of the rest of the world has not done as much for heathendom.
Our system has created an affectionate union between the two races, elsewhere so hostile, which has astounded our enemies and the world, with their quietude in these times of convulsion.
And when we look into the ethics of the relation, we find that it was never suspected of immorality by any of the great masters of moral science, classic or scholastic, nor by any of the luminaries of the Church
, patristic or reformed, until the dogma of modern abolition was born of atheistic parentage, amidst the radical disorganizers of France
, in the Reign of Terror.
In the Word of God, the only infallible standard of morality, that doctrine finds no support.
legalized domestic slavery for God's chosen people, in the very act of setting them aside to holiness.
, the great Reformer, lived and moved amidst it, teaching, healing, applauding slaveholders;
and while He assailed every abuse, uttered no word against this lawful relation.
His apostles admit slaveholders to the church, exacting no repentance nor renunciation.
They leave, by inspiration, general precepts for the manner in which the duties of the relation are to be maintained.
They command Christian slaves to obey and honor Christian masters.
They remand the runaway to his injured owner, and recognize his property in his labor as a right which they had no power to infringe.
If slavery is in itself a sinful thing, then the Bible
is a sinful book.
Strong in the truth of God and history, the people of the Confederate States
therefore calmly breast the adverse opinion of the world.
They fortify their position by the fact that their right to the labor of their slaves is not only protected by the laws they inherited from their fathers, but by the laws of God, and by eternal rectitude.
Had they been unable to assert the latter truth, their resistance to anti-slavery aggressions would have been proper; because the Constitution
, which alone united the States, recognized and protected it. But now their attitude is in every respect impregnable; for God protects it as well as the Constitution
To infringe the rights of slaveholders under the laws, was therefore a usurpation, and a violation of the primary compact.
But a covenant broken by one party is broken for the other.
The Southern States therefore had the clearest right to select their own redress.
And especially is their secession justified, when the malignant intentions of the aggressors, and the ruinous nature of the wrongs they sought to inflict, are considered.
Their purposes were evidently ruthless; they intended nothing less than our destruction.
He who has observed the silent, yet potent influence of opinion on the conduct of political bodies, well knows how absurd would be the expectation, that the Southern
people could consent to lie under
the stigma of a social crime, and of a standing moral delinquency and yet expect to receive of their supercilious accusers, equal and fair treatment in a political partnership.
The sentiment of contempt and superiority will inevitably express itself in attempted domination.
Had the dogma, which asserted the immorality of our institutions, professed itself the most unpractical abstraction, the South
would have been wise and righteous in saying to the North
: “It is time to part; we cannot live peaceably together.”
But that sentiment was intensely practical.
It proposed no less than to uproot our whole society, to plunder our citizens, at one stroke, of more than a thousand millions of their property, and thus to impoverish the whole land; to hurl back the prosperous and happy African
race to barbarism, crime, and misery; to turn our plantations into one vast jungle, and our cities into deserted ruins; and to people this blighted region with a dispirited and disorderly medley of bankrupt whites, and degraded black savages.
The people of the South
know the African character.
They have seen the bitter fruits of a general emancipation; and they well know that this picture of the results of Yankee usurpation would be verified in every lineament.
If, then, self-preservation can ever justify resistance, in this instance it was a righteous, a sacred duty.
Now the form of resistance adopted by the Southern
people was the most moderate and equitable that could be conceived.
A covenant repudiated by one party is annulled for the other.
It was the Constitution of the United States
alone, which constituted the Union
, and gave any right to the Northern States
to legislate for the South
When the former declared, as the North
in substance did, that their conscience forbade their fulfilling the obligations of that covenant for the protection of slavery, the only conclusion to which honesty could have led them was this: Let the parties
then separate, and restore to each other their mutual independence.
And this was the very least which the most Christian forbearance on the part of the South
could ask. But this was precisely what the South
demanded, in claiming the right of peaceable withdrawal.
Technical justice would have authorized her to say to the North
: “You have bargained; you have appropriated the advantages of the bargain, and you shall be compelled to stand to its terms, whether you like them or not.”
It would have sustained her in demanding reparation for the heavy wrongs already sustained.
It would have sanctioned her claim to the properties of the Union
, which the North
had really deserted, and not the South
But she asked none of these things; she made only the modest request to have her pledges restored, since they were so irksome to her partner, and to be let alone.
But this the North
refused; their claim was that they should be free to violate the mutual compact whenever its conditions were irksome to their interests, or passions or caprice, and absolutely vital to the rights of the South
, while we, their equals, should yet be held to it at the point of the sword, and under the threat of the most atrocious outrages ever visited by barbarians on their victims!
Was ever the ear of a just God vexed with wickedness more monstrous than this?
“It is rank, and smells to heaven.”
But, it is objected, the sectional party which had seized the general government, disclaimed the purpose of forcible emancipation in the States; and the South
, in resisting, took counsel of their own angry suspicions alone.
The crushing refutation of this plea is given by the developments of the Black
Republican party since.
In three years, they have attempted to consummate every outrage which the statesmen of the South
imputed to their ulterior intentions; yea, they have left no tyranny or usurpation untried, which the wildest suspicion could have imagined.
have they themselves justified the resistance of the South
to God and man, and made it clearer than the sun, that it was not one whit too early or too strenuous.
The great charge made against the South
by the Northern Democrats
was, that she had sought defence by leaving the Union
, instead of remaining in it, and trusting to their great conservative party for the protection of their rights.
Said they: “We guarantee you, in the Union
, every privilege which the Constitution
gives you; but if you attempt to leave it, we become your enemies.”
On this pretext that party have, with a baseness beyond that of the Black Republicans
, betrayed every principle of their own creed, to join them in their persecution of us. Our answer is in the question: Have they been able to protect their own rights in that Union?
And, is this the extent of our offence, that we were not willing to commit our precious liberties to the sole guardianship of those who have surrendered every right of their own, without one blow in their defence, with a folly and poltroonery unexampled in the history of reptiles, not to say of men, at the first demand of a despicable and upstart despotism?
Never was there a rejoinder so biting or so righteous as that which the cowardice of the Northern Democracy
puts into our mouths, against this, their favorite accusation.
For, which of the privileges of freemen is it which we have not seen them betray in their own case; freedom from illegal arrest, the benefit of the writ of habeas corpus
, liberty of speech, liberty of printing, free and untrammelled suffrage, liberty of conscience in the worship of God, rights of property, or freedom of their own persons from military rule?
It has been clamorously asserted that the insolence of the South
in taking the aggressive by the first acts of violence, and firing upon the national flag, left the Government
no option, consistent with self-respect, save to resist.
The statement is false.
The violation of the Federal
compact by the. North, restored to the South
its inherent right to a peaceable withdrawal; and they who attempted to obstruct it were the first aggressors.
The first act of war was committed by the Government
against South Carolina
, when fortresses intended lawfully only for her protection, were armed for her subjugation.
That act of war was repeated, when armed preparations were twice made to reinforce these means of her oppression.
And, at last, when she was imperiously warned that these forcible aggressions would be consummated, after a forbearance far greater than the Confederate Government was bound to exercise, it proceeded to what was an act of strict self-defence, the reduction of Fort Sumter
But, it is replied, the Seceding States
made themselves robbers, by seizing Federal ships, posts, arms, and money, by violence It may be asked in rejoinder: Had the South
no share in these appliances, provided with her money, and, when in her borders, having no other legitimate use than her defence?
But she did not secede in order to commit a robbery.
The proof is, that her ambassadors haunted the gates of the Federal Capitol
for. months, entreating to be permitted to make an equitable settlement of all these properties, until they were spurned away.
And why were they forcibly seized, except that she was well assured the purpose was entertained to employ them for her ruin?
Our neighbor and partner attempts to obstruct us in the prosecution of our unquestionable rights, by
brandishing a dagger before our eyes, purchased partly with our money.
When we wrench it from his hand to save our own lives, shall he accuse us of stealing his dirk?
Yet such was the insulting nonsense which was everywhere vented to make the South
an offender for acts of self-defence, which the wicked designs of the tyranny at Washington
justified more and more every day.
All the pretexts of coercion have thus been reviewed and exposed.
The crime of the North
stands forth without excuse, and black with every trait of guilt.
Its motive, impiously cloaked under the sacred profession of sustaining the law, was to replace, by the more speedy means of the armed hand, that legislative and commercial plunder which had been so long practised, and to indulge a festering hatred.
Its perpetrators were the people who claimed the largest share of the light and religiousness of the nineteenth century.
Its victims were not aliens, but countrymen, brethren, and fellow-citizens.
has embodied every barbarity which could be practised by Hun
, or Vandal, or Scythian.
It has already shed more human blood, and crushed more hearts, than any war of modern ages.
Reciting all these aggravations, the people of the Confederate States
believe that no blacker national crime has challenged the lightning of heaven's wrath; therefore it is, that among this people, the best men are most resolved to resist it. If there are any of the children of the soil who excuse it, they are either the cowards, or the stupidly ignorant, or the mercenary, whose souls are bartered for filthy lucre.
Every pure and noble man, like Jackson
, every most devout soldier, the generous Southern women, the virtuous and cultivated citizens, the incorruptible judges of the law, the venerable and holy ministers of religion, these have committed their lives, and fortunes, and sacred honor to the defence of the Confederate States
, as one man.