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Chapter 2: preliminary rebellious movements.

The choice of Presidential electors, by ballot, occurred on the 6th of November, 1860. They were three hundred and three in number, and, when assembled in Electoral College,1 one hundred and eighty of them voted for Mr. Lincoln, giving him fifty-seven electoral votes more than all of his opponents received.2 Of the popular votes, numbering 4,680,193, he received 1,866,452. Although he had a large majority over each candidate, he received 979,163 less than did all of his opponents.3 This fact, and the circumstance that in nine Slave-labor States there was no Republican electoral ticket, gave factitious vigor to the plausible cry, which was immediately raised by the conspirators and their friends, that the President elect would be a usurper when in office, because he had not received a majority of the aggregate vote of the people; that he would be a sectional ruler, and, of necessity, a tyrant; and that his antecedents, the principles of the Republican platform, and the fanaticism of his supporters, pledged him to wage relentless war upon the system of Slavery, and the rights of the Slave-labor States.

It was not denied that Mr. Lincoln had been elected in accordance with the letter and spirit of the National Constitution,4 and that it was the fault of the politicians in the nine States that there were no electoral tickets therein.5 Many of these politicians began at once, with intense zeal, which often amounted to ferocity, to put in motion a system of terrorism, in which the hangman's rope, the incendiary's torch, and the slave-hunter's blood-hound, formed prominent features. It was often perilous to his life and property, for a man below North Carolina and Tennessee to express a desire for Mr. Lincoln's election. The promise of a United States Senator from North Carolina (Clingman), that Union men would be hushed by “the swift attention of vigilance committees,” was speedily fulfilled.

It was not denied that the election had been fairly and legally conducted, or that the Republican platform pledged the nominee and his supporters to absolute non-interference with the rights and domestic policy of the States. That platform expressly declared, that “the maintenance, inviolate, of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control [37] its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend.” But these and other facts, essential to a correct understanding of the issue, were studiously concealed from the people, or so adroitly shrouded in sophistry that they were kept far away from popular cognizance.

During the canvass preceding the election, the conspirators, and the politicians in their train, employed all the means in their power to excite intensely every blinding passion of the slaveholders and the masses of the people. They appealed to their fears, their prejudices, their local patriotism, and their greed. They asserted, with all the solemn seeming of sober truth, that the people of the Free-labor States, grown rich and powerful through robbery of the people of the Slave-labor States, by means of tariff laws and other governmental measures, and by immigration from foreign lands, had elected a sectional President for the purpose of carrying out a long-cherished scheme of ambition, namely, the political and social subjugation of the inhabitants of the Slave-labor States; the subversion of their system of labor; the elevation of the negro to social equality with the white man; and the destruction of Slavery, upon which, they alleged, had rested in the past, and must forever rest in the future, all substantial prosperity in the cotton-growing States. They held the Republican party responsible for John Brown's acts at Harper's Ferry,6 and declared that his raid was the forerunner of a general and destructive invasion of the Slavelabor States by “the fanatical hordes of the North.” They cited the publications and speeches of the Abolitionists of the North during the past thirty years; the legislation in the same section unfriendly to slavery; and the more recent utterances of leading members of the Republican party, in which it had been declared that “there is an irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery” --“the Republic cannot exist half slave and half free” --“freedom is the normal condition of all territory,” &c.; they cited these with force, as proofs of long and earnest preparation for a now impending war upon “the South” and its institutions. They pictured, in high coloring, the dreadful paralysis of all the industry and commerce of “the South,” and the utter extinguishment of all hopes of future advancement in art, science, literature, and the development of the yet hidden resources in the region below the Susquehanna, the Potomac, and the Ohio, as a consequence of the domination in the National Government of their “bitter enemies,” as they unjustly termed the people of the Free-labor States.7

In this unholy work, the press and the pulpit became powerful auxiliaries. [38] The former was widely controlled by politicians of the small ruling class in the Slave-labor States, and was almost everywhere subservient to their will in the promulgation of false teachings. There were exceptions, however — noble exceptions; and there were those among influential newspaper conductors, like the heroic “Parson Brownlow,” of Knoxville, East Tennessee, now (1865) Governor of that State, who could never be brought to bend the knee a single line to Baal nor to Moloch; but stood bravely erect until consumed, as it were, at the stake of martyrdom.8

So with the pulpit. It was extensively occupied by men identified socially and pecuniarily with the slave system. These men, with the awful dignity of ambassadors of Christ-vicegerents

W. G. Brownlow.

of the Almighty — declared Slavery to be a “divine institution,” and that the fanatics of the Free-labor States who denounced it as wrong and sinful were infidels, and deserved the fate of heretics. They joined their potential voices with those of the politicians, in the cry for resistance to expected wrong and oppression ;9 and thousands upon thousands of men and women, regarding them as oracles of wisdom and truth, followed them reverentially in the broad highway of open treason.10 [39]

The “common people” --the non-slaveholders and the small slaveholders — whom the ruling class desired to reduce to vassalage,11 but to whom they now looked for physical aid in the war which their madness might kindle, were blinded, confused, and alarmed. They were assured that the independence of the South would bring riches and honor to every household. They were deluded with promises of free trade, that would bring the luxuries of the world to their dwellings. They were promised the long-desired reopening of the African Slave-trade, which would make slaves so cheap that every man might become an owner of many, and take his position in the [40] social scale, with the great proprietors of lands and sinews.12 Every avenue through which truth might find its way to the popular understanding was quickly closed, and the people had no detecter of its counterfeits. “Perhaps there never was a people,” wrote a Southern Unionist, in the third year of the war, “more bewitched, beguiled, and befooled than we were when we drifted into this rebellion.” 13

Commenting on these actions of the politicians, President Lincoln said:--“At the beginning, they knew they would never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They knew their people possessed as much moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in, and reverence for, the history and Government of their common country, as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they would make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly, they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself is, that any State of the Union may, consistently with the National Constitution, and therefore lawfully and peacefully, withdraw from the Union, without the consent of the Union, or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the judges of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice. With rebellion thus sugarcoated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years, until, at length, they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the Government, the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretense of taking their State out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.” 14 [41]

During the summer and early autumn of 1860, William L. Yancey, one of the most active and influential of the conspirators, with other disunionists, made a pilgrimage through the Free-labor States, for the purpose of vindicating the claims put forth by the extremists of the South, concerning State supremacy and the unrestricted extension of Slavery. They were listened to patiently by thousands at public meetings; were hospitably treated everywhere; received assurances of sympathy from vast numbers of men who. regarded the agitation of the Slavery question, by the Abolitionists, as mischievous, unfriendly, and dangerous to the peace of the Union; and then they went back, with treason in their hearts and falsehoods upon their lips, to deceive and arouse into rebellion the masses of the Southern people, who

William L. Yancey.

regarded them as oracles. Like an incarnation of Discord, Yancey cried, substantially as he had written two years before:--“Organize committees all over the Cotton States; fire the Southern heart; instruct the Southern mind; give courage to each other; and at the. proper moment, by one organized, concerted action, precipitate the Cotton States into revolution.” 15

This advice was instantly followed when the election of Mr. Lincoln was assured by the decision of the ballot-box, on the 6th of November. Indeed, before that decision was made, South Carolina conspirators — disciples and political successors of John C. Calhoun16--met at the house of James [42] H. Hammond (son of a New England schoolmaster, and an extensive land and slave holder, near the banks of the Savannah River), to consult upon a plan of treasonable operations. Hammond was then a member of the United States Senate, pledged by solemn oath to see that the Republic received no hurt; and yet, under his roof, he met in conclave a band of men, like himself sworn to be defenders of his native land, from foes without and foes within, to plot schemes for the ruin of that country. At his table, and in secret session in his library, sat

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