The Secession Movement at the South.
The Message of the Governor
of South Carolina
.--No Retreat for the Palmetto State
. --Position of the Border States
. &c., &c., &c.
The Governor of South Carolina
has sent in his message to the Legislature.
He thinks temporary postal arrangements can be made with Adams
& Co,'s Express until those of a permanent character can be entered into., The duties of the Governor
of South Carolina
"in future" will be so much more arduous than in the past, that the salary of the office should be increased and a private secretary allowed.
Referring to the laws of the new republic on the subject of treason, he says:
The general recognition by the citizens of South Carolina
of their allegiance to the State
, and that obedience to the Federal Government
ceases as soon as the State
withdraws from the Union
and asserts her sovereignty, satisfies me that she will have no traitors in her limits; but a wise precaution can result in no harm, and may be the means of advertising our people that if any of them should be so forgetful of their duty to their sovereign, and so reckless of his displeasure as to disregard her Ordinances, or obey any other commands than those of the constituted authorities of the State
, they will be dealt with as traitors, and punished accordingly.
In view, therefore, of such a contingency, some legislation may be necessary in more particularly defining treason to the State
, and affixing the proper punishment for the offence.
must insist upon the implicit obedience of all her citizens, both native and naturalized, and no one can be permitted to put his individual construction upon the relation he bears to the State
of his birth or adoption.--The obligation of the citizens of South Carolina
to obey the laws of the Federal Government
was created by the act of the State
entering the Union
under the compact entered into by the sovereign parties to it, and it follows that upon the withdrawal of the State
the obligation is no longer binding.
The secession of a State cannot, in the proper use of terms, be called a revolutionary movement.--It is true, there will, to some extent, be a change of government, such as dissolving a compact between sovereigns, in which it was stipulated that the citizens or subjects of each State or nation should perform certain duties, which, before the agreement of the high contracting parties, they were not required to perform, or abstain from the exercise of certain rights, which they have previously enjoyed; but this dissolution of a compact does not imply rebellion, which, if successful, is revolution, and which, if unsuccessful, subjects the citizens to punishment for committing treason.
Why are we at this moment citizens of the United States
Because South Carolina
, in her sovereign capacity, made us so by a compact entered into with the other States, which, when united, were called the United States
, and it follows that when the power that ordered us to obey the Government
of the United States
, and which alone had the right to create that relationship, releases us from that obligation by withdrawing from the league, our obedience is no longer due to that Government, and our allegiance to the State
, as our lawful sovereign, is unquestionable and undivided.
The introduction of slaves from other States, which may not become members of the Southern Confederacy, and particularly the border States, should be prohibited by legislative enactment, and by this means they will be brought to see that their safety depends upon a withdrawal from their enemies, and an union with their friends and natural allies.
If they should continue their union with the non slaveholding States, let them keep their slave property in their own borders, and the only alternative left them will be emancipation by their own act, or by the action of their confederates.
We cannot consent to relieve them from their embarrassing situation, by permitting them to realize the money value for their slaves, by selling them to us, and thus prepare them, without any loss of property, to accommodate themselves to the Northern
But should they unite their destiny with us, and become stars in the Southern
galaxy — members of a great Southern Confederation — we will receive them with open arms and an enthusiastic greeting.
Should, then, danger approach their borders, or an enemy, open or disguised, make war upon them, there is not a doubt but a living rampart of freemen, from the Atlantic
to the Gulf of Mexico
, would line their borders and beat back the invaders.
The Governor then speaks of "Federal Relations." He gives a history of Mr. Hemminger
's mission to Virginia
, where he was "kindly received and hospitably entertained," but failed to convince the Legislature of the necessity of concentrated action on the part of the South
One of the resolutions adopted by Virginia
in response to the invitation of South Carolina
to meet in conference, expresses the opinion that "Virginia
does not yet distrust the capacity of the Southern States
, by a wise and firm exercise of their reserved powers, to protect the rights and liberties of the people, and to preserve the Federal Union," and for this purpose she desires the "concurrent action
" of the Southern States
; but she adds "that efficient co-operation will be more safely obtained by such direct legislative action of the several States
as may be necessary and proper, than through the agency of an assemblage which can exercise no legitimate power except to debate and advise."
Thus we see that although Virginia
had strong hopes at that time of preserving the Federal Union, she was unwilling to resort to any other way of effecting the object than by the separate action of each State,
which would have the effect of producing the concurrent action
of all the States interested.
If, therefore, Virginia
is right as to the best mode of redressing wrongs and obtaining the concurrent action of other States, it follows that the separate action of each is the best method of getting co-operation or concerted action of the other States in any movement, and it would therefore be wise in South Carolina
, in imitation of Virginia
, to decline a representation in "any assemblage which can exercise no legitimate power except to debate and advise," and In no assemblage whatever, until by the ordinance of her Convention she has seceded from a Union which she once acceded to, and which has proved a curse instead of a blessing.
The effort of South Carolina
to assemble the Southern States
, in the hope that the North
might be induced to pause and retrace their steps, by an earnest and unanimous protest against the course pursued by them, and a notification that unless a change of policy took place the South
would be compelled to take the redress of her grievances in her own hands, failed on account of the refusal of Virginia
to join in the movement, although her borders had been recently invaded, and her citizens murdered in cold blood by a band of abolitionists, instigated to the deed by the teachings of men of controlling power in the North
All hope, therefore, of concerted action by a Southern Convention being lost, there is but one course left for South Carolina
to pursue consistently with her honor, interest and safety, and that is, to look neither to the right nor to the left, but go straight forward to the consummation of her purpose.
It is too late now to receive propositions for a conference; and the State
would be wanting in self-respect, after having deliberately decided on her course, to entertain any proposition looking to a continuance in the present Union.
We can get no better or safer guarantee than the present Constitution, and that has proved impotent to protect us against the fanaticism of the North
The institution of slavery must be under the exclusive control of those directly interested in its preservation, and not left to the mercy of those that believe it to be their duty to destroy it.
The tone of the Northern
press has greatly changed since the unanimous and determined action of South Carolina
Heretofore, it was supposed by our enemies that we were divided and distracted at home, and that, in consequence of our divisions, the scenes of 1851 would be re-enacted, and the State
would finally acquiesce in Black Republican rule, or at best, that something less than secession would be adopted, and our energies exhausted in fruitless expedients and unavailing threats.
Now that the unwelcome conviction forces itself upon them that "we have counted the cost, and find nothing so intolerable as voluntary slavery," and that we are not to be deterred from the assertion and maintenance of our rights by the threats of Federal bayonets, or the unmeaning and senseless display of Wide Aware processions, formidable only to the capitalists and conservatives of their own section, they begin to change their tone, and appeal to us rather as suppliants than as conquerors, to save a Union from which they have reaped a rich harvest of profit and honor, and the South
has only known by its exactions.
They have been deaf to the voice of reason and consanguinity; they have disregarded the counsels of their wisest and best citizens.--Their Negros, in the persons of Seward
and others, have been fiddling, while the Constitution
has been trampled under foot, and a higher law inaugurated in its stead; in accordance with their treasonable advice and teaching, and by the crowning act of electing a Black Republican President
to carry out their long cherished designs against the peace
and prosperity of the South
, they have declared open war against us.***
There is no reasonable doubt but that Georgia
will immediately follow, and that the other Southern States will eventually complete the galaxy.
It was not to be expected that they would move before South Carolina
; not on account of any want of patriotism and determination to resist aggression and insult — not because they are less informed of their rights, or less prepared to defend them, but on account of the national parties, so lately striving for victory in the Presidential canvass, in which contest there would naturally arise distrust and jealousy of each other, and a scramble for the ascendancy.
Now that the Presidential election is over, and an enemy of their section is chosen to rule over them, we find all parties becoming united against the common enemy, and prepared to forget their past divisions and unite in defence of their altars and firesides.
The idea that a majority must always govern, which has taken possession of the Northern
mind, is as mischievous as it is fallacious, and is contradicted by all the analogies of a Republican Government.
If a mere majority is to govern, why have two houses of Congress — a Senate and a House of Representatives?
Why give the President
the veto power?
Why submit the action of all three to a judicial tribunal?
Why require juries to be unanimous in giving their verdict?
The conclusion is irresistible that it is for the protection of minorities, and the safety of the itizen.
I may be asked if a minority should govern?
My answer is, no; but they should be able, by constitutional restrictions, to restrain the majority from acts of injustice and oppression.
In the co-partner-ships formed by individuals, the majority is not permitted to construe the articles of agreement to the injury of the minority; but in this case there is a disinterested tribunal to decide the question.
In a compact between States, from the nature of the case, there can be no tribunal to decide violations of it, and the remedy must be a dissolution of the agreement, without any right on the part of the States to prevent the withdrawal of any of the parties, otherwise might would make right, and a compact be an unmeaning and worthless piece of parchment.
We cannot penetrate the dark future; it may be "filled with ashes, tears, and blood," but let us go forward in the discharge of our duty, with an unwavering trust in God, and a consciousness that anything is preferable to dishonor and degradation.
Wm. H. Gist