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of the United States, you will have presented to you the question of whether you will permit the government to pass into the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies; that such a result would be a species of revolution, by which the purposes of the government would be destroyed, and the observance of its forms entitled to no respect;" and intimated that, in that event, it was their duty to provide for their safety outside of the Union, declaring that, otherwise, they would be deprived of their birthright, and reduced to a state worse than the colonial dependence of their fathers.
This catalogue of indignities and fallacies, when properly presented to the excitable and sensitive people of the South, met with a hearty response. It was too much for them to bear. They agreed upon the matter of grievance, and resolved to maintain their right to a separate confederacy at the point of the sword; and the election of an "abolitionist,” that is, any man with Northern or free-soil principles, was to be the signal for an effort to cast off allegiance to the Constitution.
The South felt that more territory must be had at any sacrifice. Kansas and Nebraska lost, all was lost, - Henry Clay's "Compromise Act" of 1821 guaranteeing to all that region freedom forever, and Texas could not for years gain population sufficient to allow of her subdivision into States.
The compromise consisted of admitting Missouri as a slave State, but conceding, as an equivalent for Northern concession in the premises, the prohibition of any further slave territory north of the parallel 36 degrees 30 minutes. The compromise, though unpalatable to the opponents of the right of slave extension, was accepted as a solemn guarantee against all further extension. Had it not been proposed and pledged as such a guarantee, the bill of Mr. Clay never could have passed the House of Representatives.
It was not until August, 1821, that the State was admitted, which, together with the later admission of Arkansas and Florida, confirmed the supremacy of the South in the national councils; a supremacy which was not disturbed until the 4th of January, 1854, when Mr. Douglas, chairman of the committee on territories, in the United States Senate, introduced a bill for the organization of the territories of Kansas and Nebraska, which provided that the said territory, or any portion of the same, when admitted as a State, shall be received into the Union with or without slavery, as their constitution may prescribe at the time of their admission; thus abrogating the venerable and respected Missouri Compromise Act of 1821, and giving to the people of a territory the right to make their own laws,— denying to Congress the power to legislate laws for its territories.
That act became a law, after one of the most exciting sessions of Congress known for many years; and it proved to be one of the most fatal acts for the peace of the country which could have been conceived. It alarmed the North; from the South came armed bands who pursued the anti-slavery settlers in the territories with a vengeance, making the record of 1855 and '56 one of outrage and bloodshed.
The North, aggravated by this armed attempt to make a slave State out of soil unfitted for slave labor, poured in its settlers, armed them for defence, gave them supplies to sustain them through the day of trial, and, eventually, obtained the victory through the action of the principle of "Squatter Sovereignty," and obtained control of affairs by mere force of numbers.
The struggle to make Kansas a free State called into existence the Republican party, which, in a brief period, elected its candidate to the chief magistracy.
Mortified at their defeat, cut off from any further extension of slave representation, the Southern States saw
before them their long-apprehended disaster of a minority in the government. If they remained in the Union, it must be as the weaker half. At this their pride revolted. The "balance of power" ranks were weakened by the election of a Republican President, as it closed up the avenues to the accession of more slave territory. In this way, and in no other, can it be said that the election of Lincoln precipitated this rebellion.
Had the South succeeded in electing their candidate to the Presidency, who would administer the government after the pattern of the last administration, grant all their requests in the way of rebuilding their forts, strengthening their fortifications, providing them with military stores, arms and munitions of war, then, undoubtedly, rebellion and all its train of blood would have been averted until the next Presidential election, as it would give them an additional four years to prepare for the conflict which must eventually come. It is urged by the immediate leaders of the secession movement that the North had perverted the Constitution from its original intent and purposes, that they had no equality in the Union, and no hopes of redress for grievances, only in secession.
We would say, for the benefit of those who make the plea that the South has been denied her rights and just share in the government, that for sixty-four years out of seventy-two the executive chair has been filled nearly all the time by Southern Presidents, or, when not by Southern men, by those possessing the confidence of the South; and of all the offices in the gift of the government, in every department, far more than her proportionate share has always been enjoyed by the South; that our army and navy have for years been controlled by Southern men; that our ships of war, and the fortifications along our coast, have nearly all been officered and commanded by men of Southern principles, to the exclusion of the sons of the North.
Then, again, the right of free speech has been asserted by Southern senators, in the halls of Congress, who claim the privilege of expressing their opinions freely on all subjects, even to vilifying opposite parties in unmeasured terms; but when a Northern senator acts upon the same principle, and speaks according to the dictates of his own conscience, he must apologize, or is visited summarily with the cane or the challenge.
New York alone has nearly double the free population of the six original "seceded States," yet she had only thirty-three representatives to their twenty-six; which proves how largely slaves are represented in Congress,the negroes entering into "population" in the proportion of five negroes for three in count, thus bearing to Congress the preponderating weight of their votes without any of the rights of citizenship appertaining to them.
And, again, Ohio has more free white population than the whole six States originally seceded, yet she had only twenty-one representatives in Congress, while they had twenty-six.
Whether these facts prove that the South has been denied her rights, we leave our readers to judge; and how far the South stands acquitted before the tribunal of nations and the bar of justice, time, and the succeeding pages of this work, will show.
It is not necessary to the accomplishment of our purpose (giving a history of the rebellion) to go farther back than the Presidential election, as we have touched, though lightly, on former feuds ; and the feeling of prejudice which has existed between the two sections, for many years, is well known to our readers, and requires no comment.
We find, under date Richmond, Va., October 31, 1860, that war preparations were commenced, that arms and ammunitions were being rapidly distributed, and a determination to resist the general government was developing more and more each day. They regarded the Union as
founded upon a very uncertain basis, and that, in case of Lincoln's election, the long-threatened crash must soon come, and all were busy preparing for it.
Senator Wigfall, of Texas notoriety, in a speech at Huntsville, Alabama, took occasion to say, "I would see the Union rent in a thousand fragments before I would vote for John Bell."
November 5th. The legislature of South Carolina met at Columbia, and received the Governor's (Gist's) message. Therein he suggested immediate secession, in case Lincoln was elected, and earnestly recommended military re-organization, and that every man in the State, between the ages of eighteen and forty-five, should be armed by the State with the most efficient weapons of modern warfare, and also recommended raising, without delay, ten thousand volunteers, to be in readiness at the shortest notice, and adds, "that they may trust their cause to the Supreme Disposer of events." An immense crowd assembled in the evening, at the Congaree House, and serenaded Senator Chesnut, who made a long and eloquent speech, declaring the last hope of the Union gone, and resistance unavoidable.
At the celebration in Savannah, of the completion of the Charleston and Savannah railroad, the mayor pledged fifty thousand Georgians to rush to the assistance of South Carolina, if coerced; Collector Colcock, of Charleston, made an eloquent disunion speech; Mr. Buchanan was toasted as "the last of an illustrious line;" the greatest enthusiasm for a Southern Confederacy prevailed, and all were resolved to fight.
Same day, at Portsmouth, Va., Governor Wise made a disunion speech of over four hours in length. He protested that he would never submit to Lincoln's election. He closed amid the wildest enthusiasm. For several minutes the house shook with the shouts of the excited multitude.