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MR. CALHOUN'S PLAN FOR SAVING THE UNION.
domination in it. Mr. Calhoun did succeed in accommodating these two considerations. He hit upon one of the most beautiful and ingenious theories in American politics to preserve and perfect the Union, and to introduce into it that principle of adaptability to circumstances, which is the first virtue of wise governments. He proposed that in cases of serious dispute between any State and the General Government, the matter should be referred to a convention of all the States for its final and conclusive determination. He thus proposed, instead of destroying the Union, to erect over it an august guardianship, and instead of bringing it to the tribunal of popular passion, to arraign it only before the assembled sovereign States which had created it.
Mr. Calhoun abundantly explained his doctrine. "Should," said he, "the General Government and a State come into conflict, we have a higher remedy: the power which called the General Government into existence, which gave it all of its authority, and can enlarge, contract, or abolish its powers at its pleasure, may be invoked. The States themselves may be appealed to, three-fourths of which, in fact, form a power, whose decrees are the Constitution itself, and whose voice can silence all discontent. The utmost extent then of the power is, that a State acting in its sovereign capacity, as one of the parties to the constitutional compact, may compel the government, created by that compact, to submit a question touching its infraction to the parties who created it." He insisted with plain reason that his doctrine, so far from being anarchical or revolutionary, was "the only solid foundation of our system and of the Union itself." His explanation of the true nature of the Union was a model of perspicuity, and an exposition of the profoundest statesmanship. In opposition to a certain vulgar and superficial opinion, that the State institutions of America were schools of provincialism, he held the doctrine that they were in no sense hostile to the Union, or malignant in their character; that they interpreted the true glory of America; and that he was the wisest statesman who would constantly observe "the sacred distribution" of power between the General Government and the States, and bind up the rights of the States with the common welfare.
It is a curious instance of Northern misrepresentation in politics and of their cunning in fastening a false political nomenclature upon the South, that the ingenious doctrine of Mr. Calhoun, which was eminently conservative, and directly addressed to saving the Union, should have been entitled "Nullification," and its author branded as a Disunionist. Unfortunately, the world has got most of its opinions of Southern parties and men from the shallow pages of Northern books; and it will take it long to learn the lessons that the system of negro servitude in the South was not "Slavery;" that John C. Calhoun was not a "Disunionist;" and that the war of 1861, brought on by Northern insurgents against the
authority of the Constitution, was not a "Southern rebellion." Names are apparently slight things; but they create the first impression; they solicit the sympathies of the vulgar; and they often create a cloud of prejudice which the greatest exertions of intelligence find it impossible wholly to dispel. But it is not the place here to analyze at length the party terms of America; and the proper definition of the words we have referred to as falsely applied to the South will appear, and will be easily apprehended in the general argument and context of our narrative,
THE FEDERAL PRINCIPLE ULTIMATELY FATAL TO THE UNION.-OTHER CAUSES OF DISUNION. -THE SECTIONAL ANIMOSITY."-THE GEOGRAPHICAL LINE IN THE UNION.-HOW THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH PRODUCED TWO DISTINCT COMMUNITIES INSTEAD OF RIVAL PARTIES WITHIN ONE BODY POLITIC.-THE THEORY OF A POLITICAL NORTH AND A POLITICAL SOUTH.—ITS EARLY RECOGNITION IN THE CONVENTION OF 1787. -DECLARATION OF MADISON.-MR. PINCKNEY'S REMARK.—HOW THE SAME THEORY WAS INVOLVED IN THE CONSTITUTION. THE TREATY-CLAUSE BETWEEN NORTH AND SOUTH.—THE UNION NOT THE BOND OF DIVERSE STATES, BUT THE ROUGH COMPANIONSHIP OF TWO PEOPLES.—GEN. SULLIVAN'S COMPLAINT TO WASHINGTON.—THE SLAVERY QUESTION, AN INCIDENT OF THE SECTIONAL ANIMOSITY.—NOT AN INDEPENDENT CONTROVERSY, OR A MORAL DISPUTE.-POLITICAL HISTORY OF NEGRO SLAVERY IN THE SOUTH.—HOW IT BECAME THE SUBJECT OF DISPUTE.—THE HARTFORD CONVENTION.—THE MISSOURI LINE, THE PRELIMINARY TRACE OF DISUNION.—DECLARATION OF THOMAS JEFFERSON.-WHY THE NORTH DEFAMED THE PECULIAR INSTITUTION OF THE SOUTH.—GREAT BENEFITS OF THIS INSTITUTION AND ITS CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE WORLD.- SLAVERY NOT THE PROPER TERM FOR THE INSTITUTION OF LABOUR IN THE SOUTH.-THE SLAVERY QUESTION SIGNIFICANT ONLY OF A CONTEST FOR POLITICAL POWER.-DIFFERENCES BETWEEN THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN POPULATIONS. THE ANTE-REVOLUTIONARY PERIOD.-TRACES OF THE MODERN YANKEE."-HOW SLAVERY ESTABLISHED A PECULIAR CIVILIZATION IN THE SOUTH.-ITS BAD AND GOOD EFFECTS SUMMED UP.-COARSENESS OF NORTHERN CIVILIZATION.-NO LANDED GENTRY IN THE NORTH.-SOANTY APPEARANCE OF THE SOUTHERN COUNTRY.—THE SENTIMENTS AND MANNERS OF ITS PEOPLE." AMERICAN EXAGGERATION” A PECULIARITY OF THE NORTHERN MIND.-SOBRIETY OF THE SOUTH.-HOW THESE QUALITIES WERE DISPLAYED IN THE NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN ESTIMATIONS OF THE UNION.-"STATE RIGHTS THE FOUNDATION OF THE MORAL DIGNITY OF THE UNION.--CALHOUN'S PICTURE OF THE UNION.-A NOBLE VISION NEVER REALIZED.
ALTHOUGH the American Union, as involving the Federal principle, contained in itself an element ultimately fatal to its form of government, it is not to be denied that by careful and attentive statesmanship a rupture might have been long postponed. We have already briefly seen that, at a most remarkable period in American history, it was proposed by the great political scholar of his times-John C. Calhoun-to modify the Federal principle of the Union and to introduce an ingenious check
upon its tendencies to controversy-à measure that night long have extended the term of the Union, and certainly would have realized a very beautiful idea of political association.
But we must notice here another cause of disunion that supervened upon that of Federal incoherence, and rapidly divided the country. It was that Sectional Animosity, far more imposing than any mere discord of States, inasmuch as it put in opposition, as it were, two distinct nations on a geographical line, that by a single stroke divided the country, and thus summarily effected what smaller differences would have taken long to accomplish.
We have elsewhere briefly referred to the divisions of population between the Northern and Southern States, marked as they were by strong contrasts between the characters of the people of each. Had these divisions existed only in a contracted space of country, they might have resulted in nothing more than the production of parties or the formation of classes. But extending as they did over the space of a continent, these divisions ceased to be political parties or classes of one community, and really existed in the condition of distinct communities or nations. A recent English writer has properly and acutely observed: "In order to master the difficulties of American politics, it will be very important to realize the fact that we have to consider, not the action of rival parties or opposing interests within the limits of one body politic, but practically that of two distinct communities or peoples, speaking indeed a common language, and united by a federal bond, but opposed in principles and interests, alienated in feeling, and jealous rivals in the pursuit of political power.
No one can read aright the history of America, unless in the light of a North and a South: two political aliens existing in a Union imperfectly defined as a confederation of States. If insensible or forgetful of this theory, he is at once involved in an otherwise inexplicable mass of facts, and will in vain attempt an analysis of controversies, apparently the most various and confused.
The Sectional Animosity, which forms the most striking and persistent feature in the history of the American States, may be dated certainly as far back as 1787. In the Convention which formed the Constitution, Mr. Madison discovered beneath the controversy between the large and small States another clashing of interests. He declared that the States were divided into different interests by other circumstances as well as by their difference of size; the most material of which resulted partly from climate, but principally from the effects of their having or not having slaves. "These two causes," he said, "concurred in forming the great division of interests in the United States;" and "if any defensive power were necessary it ought to be mutually given to these two sections." In
CONFLICT BETWEEN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN INTERESTS.
the South Carolina Convention which ratified the Constitution, Gen. Pinckney spoke of the difference between the inhabitants of the Northern and Southern States. He explained: "When I say Southern, I mean Maryland and the States southward of her. There, we may truly observe that nature has drawn as strong marks of distinction in the habits and manners of the people, as she has in her climates and productions."
There was thus early recognized in American history a political North and a political South; the division being coincident with the line that separated the slave-holding from the non-slave-holding States. Indeed, the existence of these two parties and the line on which it was founded was recognized in the very frame-work of the Constitution. That provision of this instrument which admitted slaves into the rule of representation (in the proportion of three-fifths), is significant of a conflict between North and South; and as a compact between the slave-holding and nonslave-holding interests, it may be taken as a compromise between sections, or even, in a broader and more philosophical view, as a treaty between' two nations of opposite civilizations. For we shall see that the distinction of North and South, apparently founded on slavery and traced by lines of climate, really went deeper to the very elements of the civilization of each; and that the Union, instead of being the bond of diverse States, is rather to be described, at a certain period of its history, as the forced alliance and rough companionship of two very different peoples.
When Gen. Sullivan complained to Washington that there was a party in New England opposed to his nomination as minister of war, because they considered he had "apostatized from the true New England faith, by sometimes voting with the Southern States," he declared thus early the true designs of the North to get sectional control of the government.
The slavery question is not to be taken as an independent controversy in American politics. It was not a moral dispute. It was the mere incident of a sectional animosity, the causes of which lay far beyond the domain of morals. Slavery furnished a convenient line of battle between the disputants; it was the most prominent ground of distinction between the two sections; it was, therefore, naturally seized upon as a subject of controversy, became the dominant theatre of hostilities, and was at last so conspicuous and violent, that occasion was mistaken for cause, and what was merely an incident came to be regarded as the main subject of con-troversy.
The institution of slavery, as the most prominent cause of distinction between the civilizations or social autonomies of North and South, was naturally bound up in the Sectional Animosity. As that animosity progressed, the slavery question developed. This explains, indeed, what is most curious in the political history of slavery-namely that the early part of that history is scarcely more than an enumeration of dates and