網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

Be all this, therefore, as it may, the true inquiry now to be made, is as to the fitness and expediency of the policy to be pursued by the people of South Carolina. Shall we secede alone from the Union and set up as an independent nation, or shall we adopt measures to bring about a union of the South?

To determine this question we must examine what are the existing evils for which these measures are proposed as remedies. It is agreed on all hands that the true evil pressing against us, is-that the Federal government has been perverted from its original foundation to become an engine of attack upon African slavery, and thus threatens destruction to the civilization and social institutions of the South. The first blow has been struck in despoiling us of our equal share of the territory conquered by our united arms and purchased by our common funds; and the object intended by the Wilmot proviso of hemming in slavery and preventing any increase of the slave power, has been in fact consummated in California. It has been long foreseen by our wisest statesmen, and by none more clearly than by that great and faithful champion of the South whose.ashes repose in our city and whose counsels should be engraven on our memories, that there exists an irreconcilable difference between the North and the South, which soon or late must come to issue. The area upon which their respective institutions should be developed, has hitherto been the field of battle. New States were formed from this area, and upon their introduction on one side the other endeavored immediately to bring forward a counterpoise. In this way the issue has been postponed as it were by repeated truces, and it was hoped by many that the Missouri compromise would form a line of permanent peace. And so it would have done with the South. The North would not abide by it. But power and fanaticism are always aggressive; and the Wilmot proviso was devised as a means of finally overpowering the South. It simply provided that slavery should be excluded from all newly acquired territory; and the result must follow that every new State would belong to the North. Thus they would acquire the entire control of the government, and according to their views of the Constitution, over the destinies and fortunes of the South.

The stupendous fraud by which the whole Pacific coast was included in a single State, was compensated to the North by a second fraud, whereby slavery was excluded from all this region, and California was admitted into the Union with precisely the same result as would have followed had the Wilmot proviso been originally adopted. Of course the North was content; they can divide it at their leisure into other States, and with the aid of new votes in the Senate, can dispose of the remaining territories of the United States at their pleasure. The evil is accomplished-it is indeed of fearful magnitude. But where is the remedy?

The Secessionists say leave the Union and set up for ourselves the independent nation of South Carolina. How will this give us back our right in California? How will it give us our portion of Utah, or New Mexico, or any new territory to be acquired? How will it enable us to expand in Texas and send our surplus population or our slave institutions to increase the area and power of slavery? And more than all this, how will it give peace and security in future to the institutions and civilization of the South?

On the other hand, the Co-operationists propose to unite the South in a common cause, and to demand for themselves equality in the Union or independence out of it. They propose to demand a restoration of their equal share of California, a participation in the remaining territory of the Union, and security from their co-States for the peaceful enjoyment of their rights; and if these be refused, as they have reason to fear they will be, then that the whole South should form an independent confederacy and protect and defend themselves as best they can.

The mere statement of these two plans so completely determines the mind in favor of the latter that the Secession party itself is forced to defend secession as being the best means of producing a union and cooperation of the South. Therefore, the first inquiry we shall make is, whether this be so? Will the separate secession of South Carolina conduce to the union and co-operation of the South?

What is secession from the Union? It is departing from the Union; leaving the company of the States which compose that Union; and as the Southern States form part of that company, we abandon them in common with the rest. Secession is, therefore, the opposite of co-operation, and yet we are told that to leave a society is the best mode of producing concert with those who are thus abandoned. The mere statement of such a proposition seems to decide it.

But let us examine it more in detail. Secession must either be peaceful or attended with war. Suppose it peaceful. Suppose the general government to withdraw all objection and South Carolina to be peacefully established as a separate nation. How will that conduce to the union of the South? I will hereafter consider how such a condition will affect South Carolina herself. Our present inquiry is limited to its effect upon the other Southern States.

Each one of the Southern States has definitely evinced its determination not to leave the Union for existing grievances. Although some of them are deeply discontent, yet have they all determined to remain in the Union in preference to leaving it now and establishing a new confederacy. What is to change this determination? Are we to suppose that they entertain so high a sense of the wisdom of South Carolina that her judgment will over-rule their own? Let any man cross the Savannah river, and if he ever entertained so high a conceit of his own State,

he will soon find that Georgia at least does not concur in it. Test the matter by seeing how far the opinion and judgment of the State of Georgia has influenced us. She has determined, by an overwhelming vote in a convention solemnly called, that she deems it wisest to remain in the Union. Has this decision convinced us or induced us to adopt it? How then are we to expect that our convention will produce a greater effect upon them?

Is the measure of secession itself, if peaceably carried out, calculated to overcome the repugnance of Georgia or the other Southern States? The secession leaders gravely propose that our ports shall be opened to free trade, and that South Carolina shall become a great den of competition for smugglers from the adjacent States. How is such a scheme likely to be received by all those engaged in fair trade in the Southern States? Would it not rouse every honest trader throughout the South? Could Savannah, and Augusta, and Wilmington, and Mobile, and New Orleans allow such a condition of things to continue, and would those who endeavor to force it upon them be regarded by the sufferers as friends with whom they are to join in concert? Human nature must change before measures of this kind can have any other effect than to deepen hatred and widen breaches.

[ocr errors]

But let us take the other alternative-the alternative which is far more likely to occur. Suppose secession should not be peaceful, and that war, or measures of quasi war, should be adopted, would co-operation and union of the South be more likely to occur?

We cannot shut our eyes to the fact that the United States government is in possession of the forts which command our harbor. There they are, and the flag which floats over them contains the stars and the stripes which Georgia, and Alabama and Mississippi yet claim as their flag. When South Carolina secedes and becomes an independent nation, I do not doubt that the valor of her sons will not permit a foreign flag to wave over her territory. The forts will be attacked. They will be subdued at a cost, however, of many of her valued sons-a cost the more dear, as unfortunately it will bring us no relief. The flag which now floats over these forts will trail the dust; but whose flag will that be? Georgia, and Alabama, and Mississippi, and North Carolina, and Virginia, and Tennessee, and Kentucky, and Florida, and Louisiana and Arkansas each claim one of those stars; each has a common pride in that flag; each has her honor floating in its stripes; each feels a wound when that banner has been struck. And you are told that a blow like this will lead to sympathy and co-operation. Georgia is to call a convention while smarting under the shame of wounded pride, and follow a lead which in her kindliest moments she has distrusted. Alabama and Mississippi are to come alongside of us then, and to take part in defending, by force of arms, those schemes which at present even

the suspicion of favoring has caused them to repudiate their most trusted and popular leaders.

But, it is said, that no sooner will South Carolina have moved than thousands of volunteers will come to her aid from the adjoining States. Suppose that to be true, what we are now considering is not the maintenance by South Carolina of her separate nationality, but the likelihood of the union of the South. What we need is the concert of the State governments in forming a new confederacy. The fact that some thousand volunteers would come to our aid, no more advances this end than did the volunteers under Lopez prove that the States from which they came would go and join with Cuba. The State of Georgia has in convention solemnly determined to adhere to the Union. Suppose the State of South Carolina shall in convention, with equal solemnity, determine to leave the Union. According to our doctrine, every citizen of South Carolina would be bound by this decision, and would be guilty of treason in opposing it by any overt act. Does not the same consequence follow in Georgia? Every Georgian in arms against that Union to which his State has determined to adhere would by the same reason be a traitor to his own State, and consequently every man who would march to the aid of South Carolina must be content to abide all the consequences of treason to his own State. And this is the position in which we are to place our friends and supporters in the other States. Is it not obvious that such a course must lose them all? While we are with them in the Union we can meet and counsel and act together as friends. When we leave the Union we are foreigners to them; and counsel or co-operation with us against the voice of their own State is treason, and could not be entertained by honorable men.

[ocr errors]

I think, then, it is clear, beyond a doubt, that the secession of South Carolina will not effect the union and co-operation of the South.

This brings us to the only remaining inquiry. Will secession by South Carolina alone remedy the evils of which we complain? Will it give us redress for the past or security for the future?

1. Will it restore our rights in California ?

Secession abandons the whole property of the Union to the States which are left in possession. It is physically impossible for South Carolina alone to recover any part. A union of the whole South, either in or out of the Union, could compel a reparation of California, and the establishment of the Missouri Line. The friends of Southern rights in other States are still insisting upon this line; it was laid down as the demand of the South by the Nashville convention, and we intend to insist upon it. United action by the South can inâuence California herself upon this question; and for South Carolina to retire from the Union alone is not only to withdraw our support from our friends, and thus to weaken the common cause at its very crisis, but to abandon the whole prize to our enemies.

2. Will secession relieve us from the injuries, present and future, growing out of the adoption of the Wilmot proviso?

I have shown in my speech at Pendleton and Greenville that the Federal government have practically adopted the Wilmot proviso; that it is a mere evasion to put the exclusion of slavery from California upon the people of that State. In my opinion, the government at Washington is responsible for it, and I consider it a practical victory obtained by the North, which gives them the mastery over the civilization of the South. They have now the control of the whole government. They have so adjusted the area upon which our institutions are to expand that their political power must increase and ours remain nearly stationary. In such a condition of things the final struggle cannot long be postponed. Truces are nearly at an end; the Missouri treaty has been set aside; the fugitive slave law is the only olive branch remaining, and fanaticism will soon wither it with its breath. The great contest must come on which wise statesmen have long foreseen, and the institutions of the South must come in conflict with the fanaticism and self-interest of the North. At such a time we are invited to divide -to separate ourselves from the Southern phalanx-to introduce dissension and discord in the slave-holding camp, and to withdraw from the main body what we believe will prove its Tenth Legion in time of trial.

In what possible way will secession remedy the existing state of things? At present we are excluded from California. But we have Texas and the Indian Territory open to us. By a union of the Southern States we have at present the prospect of extending our institutions in and around the Gulf of Mexico, still farther to the South, and possibly of making that gulf to us what the great lakes are to the North. Cuba lies open before us. Yucatan has once actually called us to their aid. But secession extinguishes all these prospects, and brings the Wilmot proviso close up to the banks of the Savannah river. Our slaves, which now can go to any part of the South, will then be shut up in South Carolina, and cannot even cross the Savannah river or the North Carolina line. For by secession we become foreign to the other States of the Union, and by their laws it is piracy to introduce slaves from abroad.

And is it supposed that by leaving the Union we escape the dangers which the government of the United States may offer to slavery? Imagine for a moment slavery to be abolished in Georgia and North Carolina, and what would be its condition in South Carolina? Must it not fall there too? The truth is, that the institution in the United States is a unit, and every blow dealt upon it in one part must be felt in every other. And it is mainly this which makes our abandonment of the rest of the South so unwise. We have more thoroughly considered this subject for it must be confessed that the horror of disunion has in other

« 上一頁繼續 »