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CHAP. XXXIX.] DEFENSES OF THE CONFEDERACY.
Constitution against itself. No pains were spared to secure in the Border States-the tier of states intervening between the cotton region and the free North-reliable governors and Legislatures. These states, by assuming a position of neutrality, might ward off the forces of the republic under the plea that they had done nothing to justify invasion by it. Meantime their military popula tion was individually, and therefore, it might be said, imperceptibly, able to re-enforce the armies of the Confeder acy, and their military resources could be quietly added to its strength.
Under the protection of this vast breastwork, this tier of ostensibly peaceable and neutral states, reaching from beyond the Mississippi eastward to the Atlantic Ocean, the people who had revolted from the republic expected to organize their political institutions in security; and that, even should war break out, its shock would not fall upon them. The Border States must be the battle-field of the Confederacy.
Distance, and the impracticability of carrying on milithe west front inac- tary operations in a sparsely peopled country -a country without good roads and without available resources, seemed to give ample security on the western frontier. The Mississippi River, as a central and the Mississippi avenue to the interior recesses of the Confederacy, might be closed without difficulty against all adventurers. The forts at New Orleans prohibited any ascent, and batteries could easily be constructed below the junction of the Ohio at Cairo that would bar all descent down the stream.
The national army
If such was the encouraging prospect when the defenses of the Confederate territory were conand navy dispersed. sidered, not less satisfactory was the condi tion of its expected assailant. With provident care for the success of the conspiracy, Floyd had dispatched the
DEFENSES OF THE CONFEDERACY.
mass of the United States army to the frontier. The Secretary of the Navy had sent the national ships to distant parts of the world. History lent no countenance to the supposition that it would be possible to put a shoreline of many thousand miles under a valid blockade. When Lincoln came into power he had only forty-two national ships with which to do that and meet all other naval requirements.
It was, therefore, not without reason, expected that the cultivation of tobacco and cotton, those great
sources of wealth, could be carried on as heretofore; that unrestrained access to the ocean on the one side, and the urgent necessities of Europe on the other, would continue the profitable commerce which for so many years past had enriched the South. So clear did this appear, that it was not consid ered necessary by the leaders of secession to resort to any measures for the immediate transportation of the great stock of those staples on hand to Europe, it being concluded that, should the government undertake any such measures as a closure of the ports or the establishment of a blockade, the western powers of Europe would at once interfere.
Life in the Cotton
Behind the impregnable rampart of the Border States there would thus exist, in peace and secuParadise. rity, a Cotton Paradise, its free inhabitant relieved from the primeval curse, and gaining his bread by the sweat of another man's brow. Should the African trade be reopened, every one of the ruling race might have as many laborers as he pleased. It was not very material what terms were contained in the written Constitution of the new nation, since the recognized right of peaceable secession covered every difficul dy for all political ty. Should South Carolina, in the course of events, readopt the policy she had at the
Secession a reme
close of the last English war, aided in imposing on the old Union-the tariff policy-and should, as probably might be the case, her associates object to her proceedings, what more would be needful for her, if determined to gratify her own willfulness, than to retire from the Confederacy, as she had formerly retired from the Union. Or, should Florida, recalling her traditions, and remembering that on her soil the African first set his foot on this continent, desire a reopening of the profitable Guinea trade, and make ready her dépôts at Pensacola and St. Augustine, in vain would the slave-breeding states of the Confederacy exert their opposition. Falling back on her sovereign rights, it was only for her to secede from her associates and carry out her intent.
Real principles of
But the founders of the Confederacy never seriously contemplated the recognition of such a pothe leaders of se- litical absurdity as the right of secession; it was too slippery a principle; they never practically accepted its kindred delusion of individual state rights as against the united whole; they never be lieved that a powerful dominion could be constructed out of disconnected communities. They were too astute to attempt to build a tower whose top was to reach to the sky, with nothing but slime for mortar. They knew that when something of that kind was formerly tried, it led to a confusion of tongues and the dispersion of the projectors.
THE RIGHT OF SECESSION.
On the contrary, once in possession of power, they subjected every thing to a despotism of iron. Instead of a garden of Eden, in which every one might gratify his own will, the South became a vast intrenched camp, and instant obedience was exacted to the orders of a military superior. The poor white, who had innocently amused himself with a day-dream of anticipated idleness, riches, pleasure, and liberty to the verge
They institute a
CLASSES OF THE POPULATION.
of license, was aghast when he found that he was torn from his home, and even from his state, and compelled to march to the battle front by order of a central authority at Richmond.
The population of the proposed Confederacy may be considered as having presented four distinctly marked divisions or groups, constituting, socially and intellectually, a descending series. (1.) The planters, or great land and slave owners; (2.) Persons constrained by their circumstances, more or less narrow, to occupy themselves in certain industrial pursuits — professional politicians, clergymen, lawyers, merchants, mechanics, farmers, laborers; (3.) Domestic slaves; (4.) Field slaves. It is not necessary to add to these the free negroes, for they, in truth, were of little litical importance.
The population of
(1.) The planters were a true aristocracy—a ruling class. They were educated, wealthy, hos The first class. pitable. Foreseeing that, under the operation of the existing Constitution, the North must neces sarily take from them that control of the national government, which they had so long enjoyed, they had become alienated from it. Accustomed to command, impatient of any control, a civil government of the representative type suited them far less than a purely military ruleone readily adapting itself to actual occurrences, and able to enforce its laws and resolves promptly and emphatically.
As forming what might be termed a section of this group were its young men. Brave, splendid riders, capital shots, bold to rashness, they held labor in absolute contempt, and pined for the maddening excitements of
(2.) The small farmers, mechanics, merchants, professional men. This group probably numbered three fourths
of the white population. They had no real interest in the establishment of a Southern Confederacy. Some were led, and some driven to take the risk of war; they hoped to be benefited by it somehow, but they knew not how.. Guided by the opinions of the great slaveholding planters, they had become intol erant supporters of the overshadowing institution.
One portion of this group-the clergy-has still to render to the world an account of its conduct. At the bar of civilization it has yet to explain or to defend its support of slavery. It took the responsibility of training the women of the South in the belief that that institution is authorized by Christianity.
(3.) Of the slave groups, the domestic slaves had gained The third class, do- a certain degree of intellectual culture from their closer association with the whites. When it is said that the proportion of mulattoes to the whole slave population had risen in 1860 to one eighth, the statement does not convey the whole truth. It was on the class of domestic slaves that the adulteration chiefly fell. Persons who were extensively and familiarly acquainted with Southern society were disposed to believe that more than a majority of this group showed unmistakable traces of white blood. The women of it, from their necessary connection with the household, were more exposed to their masters, and perhaps they were not less attractive from the fact that many of them possessed lineaments of a European cast, and had lost the repulsive features of the African. As a general thing, they were treated with kindness; but, from the political knowledge they incidentally acquired; from their comparative physiological elevation above the true black, arising from the white constituent of their blood; from the bitterness awakened in them against the
a dangerous class.
The second class.
The course of the
CLASSES OF THE POPULATION.