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DANGER OF SECTIONAL PARTIES.
nations, Northern and Southern, Atlantic and Western, whence designing men may endeavor to excite a belief that there is a real difference of local interests and views."
This advice, it is the historian's imperative duty to impress on the public mind, let whatever party or section of the country be guilty of political factions, based on geographical lines. How much it may be the duty of one portion to suffer from the aggressions of another, before it ought to stand up in its own defense, is strictly another question—the great truth which should be engraven as with the point of a diamond on the public heart, is this: whenever the position is taken, let it be assumed with the full understanding and consent, that it shall end in peaceful separation or open war. Let the people never again be deluded by ignorant, selfish leaders, into the belief that it can be done without danger. Whenever the first step is taken towards the arraying of one section of this country against the other, in a political contest, let every one who engages in it, make up his mind to go to the bitter end, and not delude himself and others, by the contemptuous cry of “no danger.” Boastful and proud as we as a people undoubtedly are, we shall always find in the end, that we form no exception to the history of nations. What has wrecked other republics, if persisted in, will assuredly wreck us. Our advanced civilization and Christianity, cannot avail us to escape their doom, except as they enable us to avoid their errors and crimes.
But though the time has not yet come for a calm and dispassionate discussion of all the causes that brought about this rebellion, certain historical events may be given as the foundation for our own judgment. This, too, is necessary to any right understanding of it. When we had achieved our independence of Great Britain, and our patriotic sires assembled to lay the foundation of the new government, they found themselves confronted with a glaring inconsistency, which
SLAVERY - EMANCIPATION-COTTON.
they could see no way to avoid incorporating into the very structure itself-viz., slavery. , Right in the face of the declaration of independence, by which the rebellion had been justified, and on which the battle had been fought and won, they had to accept human slavery as one of the strange features of the new Republic. To us it seems a singular providence that fastened this necessity upon them. They felt the embarrassment it produced, and feared the evils that would result from giving such an incongruous, demoralizing thing a place in the temple of liberty. They solaced themselves, however, with the hope that it would gradually disappear under the benign influence of free institutions, and the palpable advantages of free labor. Their anticipation's were to a certain extent realized, and state after state released itself from the curse of slavery, until emancipation reached nearly to the parallel of thirty. Here its progress was arrested; though in Maryland, Virginia, and Kentucky, influences were at work, which promised before long to place them beside the free states of the north. Bills were introduced into their legislatures, looking to gradual emancipation; and the subject was publicly and fully discussed within their borders till it looked, for a time, as though the problem of slavery was to have a peaceful and happy solution. Independent of moral considerations, on the score of economy alone, it was plain that these states should range themselves on the side of freedom. But just at this critical period, a few violent abolitionists commenced a fierce crusade against slavery and slaveholders. This alarmed the timid, lest emancipation should end in insurrection; and enraged others, who would not be driven by vituperation into any measure, until all thought of gradual emancipation was dropped. Added to this, the cultivation of cotton rapidly acquired prominence as a source of wealth, and the importation of slaves being prohibited, the value of those in the country
who were needed for its production, necessarily became very much enhanced. Thus the hope of the extinction of slavery, which most looked to at some future period, was gradually abandoned by the southern states, and it was accepted as a permanent institution. It then became necessary to defend and strengthen it. To do this, it must have its proportion of the new states that were constantly asking for admission; for the moral sense of the north was becoming more and more averse to a system fraught with every abomination that disgraced the darkest days of feudalism. Here was the starting point of the collision between the north and the south, which finally resulted in an appeal to arms. To let slavery extend itself, and move pari passu beside freedom in the enlargement of the Republic, was revolting to civilization and Christianity, as well as clearly contrary to the purpose and expectations of the framers of the constitution. Still, neither of the great political parties would incorporate this sentiment into their platforms, and the warfare between freedom and slavery assumed a desultory character; and various propositions and compromises were offered to get rid of the vexed question, till finally the “Missouri Compromise," fixing the southern boundary of that state as the line beyond which, southward, freedom should not go, and beyond which, northward, slavery should not be extended, geetuea io make a final disposition of it; for no one proposed to interfere with slavery in the states where it existed. But the tide of emigration, rolling westward, peopling with marvellous rapidity our wild territory, soon revealed the startling fact, that in a short time the free states would greatly outnumber those in which slavery could be established.
The south, naturally became alarmed at the prospect of thus being put in a hopeless minority, and proportionably bitter in its feelings towards the north.' The repeal of this compromise awakened a feeling of intense indignation
throughout the north, and had it been exclusively a southern measure, might have been attended by disastrous consequences. But being introduced by Mr. Douglas, a northern man, and voted for by many northern democrats, it could not wholly be charged on the south. In the mean time, the fertile plains of Kansas had attracted settlers into it, and it was seen that a new state, which lay mostly north of the line which the Missouri Compromise prohibited to slavery, would soon ask to be admitted into the Union. Immediately there arose a fierce struggle between the north and south, respecting the future status of the state on the subject of slavery, It is now evident, that had it been let alone, the character of the emigrants would have settled it without bloodshed. But as it was, the young and struggling territory became the theater of a terrible strife, which shook the nation to its center.
It must not be forgotten, that during these years of increasing excitement and danger to the Republic, though the general government stood uncommitted to either section of the country, the states, north and south, in their sovereign capacity, legislated against each other, and intensified the bitter hatred, the end of which every patriotic statesman trembled to contemplate. Freedom was declared in some states to belong to every slave brought northward by his master, while fugitives, whose rendition was commanded by the Constitution, could, in many places, no longer be recovered with any certainty, or if so, at an expense that discouraged the attempt. On the other hand, pains and penalties were inflicted on "abolitionists'-as all were termed who dared to express sentiments condemnatory of slavery-by the southern states, and men, and even women, were subjected to treat ment that would disgrace barbarians. These acts, in turn exexasperated the north, and 'the feeling of indignation was intensified still more, by lecturers, who carefully collared all
1 POLITICAL PARTIES.
true and reported instances of cruelty to slaves and retailed them to northern audiences. Thus the breach between the north and south gradually widened, till without some radical change, it became apparent that a separation, or an attempted separation was inevitable
. Scenes were enacted in every Congress that did not tend to allay the excitement, and we gradually became more hostile in feeling and sentiment than any two entirely separate nations in the civilized world. In this state of the public mind, the Whig party, which with the Democratic, had by turns ruled the nation, fell into a hopeless minority. The United States bank, tariff, subtreasury, etc., which had furnished its platform, were finally disposed of. The American party completed its demoralization, and there was nothing left for it to rally on. In this emergency, some of its old leaders cast about for something on which to reorganize a new party, and seeing how deep and wide-spread was the anti-slavery sentiment of the north, determined to make it, in some form, its platform. "This was the first great step towards placing the north and south face to face to each other in a struggle for the control of the government. In ordinary times, the advice of Washington which the people had been taught to revere, and their common instincts, would have rendered this attempt powerless to do evil. But the outrages committed in Kansas on free citizens, by lawless ruffians, who proclaimed themselves champions of slavery, and the worse than brutal attack on Mr. Sumner, in his seat in the Senate, awakened such a feeling of indignation at the north, that it threatened for a time to overleap every obstacle, and, if need be, rush to arms to avenge the insults and wrongs heaped
The election, however, resulted in the defeat of the Republičan party, and election of Mr. Buchanan, and al] immediate danger of a disruption of the Union seemed to be over. It would have been, but for some few southern conspirators,