Page images



In vain all over the South a cry was raised against this secret despotism. Even thoughtful men were constrained to submit because they saw it was unavoidable.

sional acts.

In the Confederate Congress, after the inauguration of Various Congres- a provisional President (February 18th, 1861), a resolution was offered touching the expediency of laying a duty on exported cotton, there being a very general opinion that such a course would aid very much in compelling the powers of Europe to ac knowledge the independence of the Confederacy. It was one of the delusions of the South that the great military monarchies of Europe could be coerced by trade consid erations. Her politicians, who had so often succeeded in carrying their point in domestic legislation by the exercise of pressure, persuaded themselves that similar principles might with impunity be resorted to in foreign affairs. When financial provision was made for the war by authorizing the borrowing of fifteen millions of dollars, an export duty was at length laid on cotton, but it was with the intention of creating a fund to liquidate, the principal and interest.


An act was passed in reference to the navigation of the Mississippi, declaring it free, and one defining the punishment of persons engaged in the African slave-trade. The postal system was organized, and the privilege of franking abolished, except so far as concerned the business of the post-office itself. Breadstuffs, provisions, munitions of war, and merchandise imported from the United States before the 14th of March, were admitted duty free.

With a view of exerting a salutary pressure upon Northern creditors, a bill was reported to the effect that, so long as the United States refused to acknowledge the independence of the Confederate States, no court of the latter should have cognizance of civil cases in which citizens of the former were concerned. To conciliate the lit



Authority conceded erary influence of Europe, the President was to the President. authorized to negotiate international-copyright treaties. Four days before the inauguration of Lincoln, the provisional Congress authorized Davis to assume control of the military operations in every Confederate state. Subsequently (March 6th) he was authorized to accept the services of one hundred thousand volunteers for twelve months. Anticipating but little difficulty in obtaining European recognition, commissioners were appointed to various foreign governments. On the 11th of March the permanent Constitution was adopted, and the Congress adjourned.


When it became obvious that the administration of Extra session of Lincoln was about to take a more resolute action than that of Buchanan, Davis summoned (April 12th) the Congress to meet on the 29th of April. In the interval between its summons and its session Lincoln had called for 75,000 militia (April 15th), and had announced the blockade of the Southern ports (April 19th).


The message sent by Davis to the Congress on this ocThe message of the casion is perhaps the ablest of his state papers. He began by congratulating that body on the ratification of the permanent Constitution by Conventions of the states concerned, and expressed his belief that at no distant day the other Slave States would join the Confederacy.

It was not, however, for the purpose of making this announcement that he had summoned the mem

He affirms that the

declared war,

United States have bers together, but because the President of the United States had made a declaration of war against the Confederacy, and thereby had rendered it necessary to devise measures for the defense of the country. That mankind might pass an impartial judg ment on the motives and objects of the Confederates, he




briefly reviewed the relations between the contending parties.

He stated that, during the war between the colonies and England, the former entered into a confederation with each other for their common

and describes the origin of state soyereignty.

defense; and, that there might be no misconstruction of their compact, they, in a distinct article, made an explicit declaration that each state retained its sovereignty, and every power and right not expressly del gated to the United States by this contract.

He added that in the treaty of peace in 1783, the sev eral states were by name recognized to be independent.

He then drew attention strongly to the marked caution with which the states endeavored, in every possible manner, to exclude the idea that the separate and independ ent sovereignty of each was merged in one common gov ernment or nation. The states, when invited to ratify the Constitution, refused to be satisfied until amendments were added to it placing beyond doubt their reservation of their sovereign rights not expressly delegated to the United States in that instrument.

The centralizing

In spite of all this care, a political school had arisen in the North claiming that the government is ideas of the North. above the states, exalting the creature above its creator, and making the principals subordinate to the agent appointed by themselves.

The people of the Southern States, devoted to agricul ture, early perceived a tendency in the Northern States to render a common government subservient to their purposes by imposing burdens on commerce as protection to their manufacturing and shipping interests. Controver sies grew out of those attempts to benefit one section at the expense of the other, and the dangers of disruption were enhanced by the fact that the population of the North was increasing more rapidly than that of the



The fallacy of gov


South. By degrees, as the Northern States gained preponderance in Congress, self-interest taught their people to assert their right as a majority to govern ernment by major- the minority. President Lincoln had de-. clared, at length, that the theory of the Constitution requires that in all cases the majority shall govern. He likens the relations between states and the United States to those between a county and the state in which it is situated. On this lamentable error rests the policy which has culminated in his declaration of war against the Confederate States.

Mr. Davis pointed out that, in addition to the deepThe obnoxious char- seated resentment felt by the South at the acter of tariff laws. enriching of the North through the tariff laws, there was another subject of discord, involving interests of such transcendent magnitude as to create an apprehension that the permanence of the Union was impossible.

ican slavery.

He then gave a brief history of American negro slavThe story of Amer- ery, affirming that originally it existed in twelve out of fifteen of the states; the right of property in slaves was protected by law, recognized in the Constitution, and provision made against loss by the escape of the slave; that, to secure a due slave supply, Congress was forbidden to prohibit the African slavetrade before a certain date, and no power was given to it to legislate disadvantageously against that species of property.

The climate of the Northern States being unpropiAnti-slavery con- tious to slave labor, they sold their slaves dact of the North to the South, and then prohibited slavery in their own limits. The South purchased this property willingly, not suspecting that quiet possession of it was to be disturbed by those who not only were in want of constitutional authority, but prevented by good faith as




vendors from disquieting a title emanating from themselves.

This done, as soon as the Northern States had gained a control in Congress, they commenced an organized system of hostile measures against the institution. They devised plans for making slave property insecure; they supplied fanatical organizations with money to excite the slaves to discontent and revolt; they enticed them to abscond; they neutralized and denounced the fugitive slave law; they mobbed and murdered slave-owners in pursuit of their fugitive slaves; they passed laws punishing by fine and imprisonment Southern citizens seeking the recovery of their property; they sent senators and representatives to Congress whose chief title to that distinction was their ultra-fanaticism, and whose business was to awaken the bitterest hatred against the South by violent denunciations of its institutions.

A great party was then organized for obtaining the Organization of the administration of the government, its object Anti-slavery party. being to exclude the Slave States from the public domain, to surround them by states in which slavery should be prohibited, and thereby amihilate slave property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party succeeded, in November last, in the election of its candidate for the presidency of the United States.

Mr. Davis then proceeded to show that, on the other hand, under the genial climate of the Southern States, and owing to the care for their well-being, which had been dictated alike by interest and humanity, the slaves had augmented from six hundred thousand at the adoption of the Constitution to upward of four millions; that, by careful religious instruction, they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, civilized laborers, whose toil had been directed to the conversion of a vast wilderness into culti

Development of slavery in the South.

« PreviousContinue »