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SECESSION NOT KILLED. But although such a decisive death-blow was given in 1833 to the right of a state or states to withdraw from the Union, yet the fire was only smothered, the embers still burned; and her leading men have been quietly, but constantly and actively, engaged from that day, now nearly thirty years since, in sowing seeds of discontent throughout the Southern States.
For the accomplishment of this end, it became necessary to hit upon some expedient, or to select some more exciting subject upon which the South could be brought to act as a unit, and not as a divided section as on the tariff question, and by that means combine the entire Southern States in one harmonious whole; and as the Democracy was largely in the ascendant throughout the South, it became necessary that the whole South should become democratized. This being the first great object in view, it required no great sagacity or foresight to see that there was but one question, or one subject, on which common interest would beget community of feeling in every Southern State, and that was the question of slavery, and this could only be used for that purpose by exciting the apprehensions of the slaveholder as to the security of his property; and how could this alarm be kept up otherwise than by adopting such a course as would unavoidably excite and increase the hostility of the anti-slavery interest of the South, and, by constant agitation, keep the political caldron ever at fever heat? The argument was this : By keeping up a constant agitation of the slavery question, we can sooner or later force the Whig party in the South to co-operate with the Democracy on all sectional issues, of which we will take care to have an abundant supply on hand, and thus in time the whole South will become democratized. Accordingly we find that, in an address of Mr. Calhoun's to the people of South Carolina in 1835, he recommends a change of issue from the tariff to the slavery question, and that that question must be driven home upon the people of the North; in what manner they did drive this question home upon the people of the North will be seen in the sequel.
By the more rapid increase of population in the North, the power is gradually fading away from the South; and when the time shall arrive that the Democracy can no longer hold their power under the national government, it will require but little art or persuasion addressed to the selfishness of the leaders of the opposition to join in breaking up the old government, and perpetuating their power and our oron under a Southern Confederacy; how well they have succeeded in the scheme, at least so far as the effort is concerned, we all too well know and too painfully feel.
THE DISUNION SCHEME OF THE DEMOCRACY, I set up no pretensions to superior sagacity, but I had been but a short time in Congress, mixing freely with the public men of the country, before I saw the whole scheme as plainly as it may be seen by others now; and from the first I set myself against it, and resolved to resist them at every step of their unhallowed proceedings, and make a willing sacrifice of myself, if, by so doing, I could save the Union and rescue my country from ruin; and therefore it was that I have been found uniformly, on every sectional issue raised by the Democracy, not against the South, but in opposition to the measures of the Democratic party, until I brought upon myself the unlimited denunciation of the Democratic press and politicians, and not unfrequently the suspicion of some of my own party of a want of fidelity to Southern interests. And I may here ask emphatically, on what occasion have I failed to raise my voice to its utmost pitch in warning the people that the object of each successive issue was the ultimate dissolution of the Union ? This solemn conviction, so deeply impressed upon my mind, will furnish the key to my whole public course. It was to protect, as far as I could, and save the Union; to prevent a civil war of an exterminating character, which I saw and knew must attend any effort at dissolution. Others there were who looked at these issues only to ascertain how far it would affect their personal popularity at home—whether it would retain this one in the Legislature, or that one in Congress, or secure a nomination for this or that political preferment; while I claim to have paid no regard to the fact whether it kept either them or myself in place. The Union was the god of my idolatry on earth; and from its preservation I never permitted my eye to be turned for a moment. You will excuse me for this brief episode in regard to myself, as it affords a defense and justification of my past course which none may make for me hereafter; and as I have quitted public life forever, I may have no other opportunity of making for myself.
Slavery, then, was to be the pretext, the perpetuation of power the real object of every movement that was made on the political chess-board by Mr. Calhoun and his followers from the year 1833 down to the fatal day when South Carolina, on the 20th of December, 1860, during the Democratic administration of Mr. Buchanan, and nearly three months before the inauguration of Mr.Lincoln, rushed headlong into secession, denied the authority and defied the power of the United States, and commenced hostilities by firing upon the steamer “Star of the West," bearing the flag of the United States, and repeating these hostilities by again attacking the United States troops in Fort Sumter, which precipitated the whole South into this fatal rebellion.
THE SECESSION PROGRAMME. The first steps taken for the accomplishment of the end in view, that is to say, in getting up excitement and agitation on slavery, was by the adoption of what is so well known through the country as the 21st rule; by which the sacred and inalienable right of petition was denied to the North on all questions connected with slavery, which at once produced, as was clearly foreseen it would, a perfect furor throughout the North, and this it was that gave the first impetus toward the regular organization of a formidable Abolition party in all the Northern States. This is just what the leaders desired, for as long as that rule remained in force, thousands of petitions were poured into Congress in the very wantonness of excitement that was created; and upon the presentation of every such petition the South was warned, with solemn voice, of the danger to slavery, and the determination of the North to destroy it - by legislation if possible, but by force if necessary.
During the long protracted struggle that ensued, every rash and intemperate speech that was made in Congress or out of it upon the subject of slavery by the Northern representatives was sent all over the South, while others equally rash and intemperate, and made for the occasion and the purpose in the South, were hurried off to the North; and each successive year saw additional exasperation and bitterness mixed up with the never-ending discussions that were studiously encouraged, until the simple-minded people on either side really felt that these artful and designing politicians gave utterance to the general sentiment of the section they represented; and many honest, well-meaning, and patriotic men persuaded themselves that if a peaceful separation could be effected, it would be to the advantage of both parties that it should be brought about; hence the laborious effort that was made in this state to persuade the people that secession was a measure of peace, and that the only way by which it was possible to insure peace was for Virginia to follow in the wake of South Carolina. What a wicked and willful perversion of truth! for the parties that so represented knew it was false. What fatal credulity and misplaced confidence on the part of the people, their condition, before this war terminates, will illustrate.
But what measure of execration is in store for those who practiced the deception when the war fever subsides ? At present the nervous system of all men, and women too, is alike stretched to its utmost tension, and none stop to count the cost; but when the war is over, and the raging fever subsides, and men look aghast at children, brothers, and fathers slain; mothers, wives, and sisters left broken-hearted; fortunes sacrificed; homes abandoned or destroyed; the country every where, that the tread of either army has been felt, presenting one general scene of devastation and ruin; the slave property that has either made its escape or been carried off, with no labor left to carry on the ordinary pursuits of agriculture; with the country groaning under a weight of debt heretofore unknown to our people; with a system of taxation twice tenfold greater than ever before, while the means of paying them are diminished in the same proportion, it can not be, in the nature of things and in the nature of man, but that the inquiry will be universal, Why is this? For what good purpose have I and my country been thus reduced to ruin? What was I suffering from before the war? and if at all, how have those sufferings been re