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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.
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.
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 influence 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
States prevented them from examining it in all its bearings. We then, instead of instructing, encouraging, supporting, are to abandon our colleagues in the moment of danger, and to leave them weakened and dispirited by our loss to the machinations of a subtle and uncompromising foe.
Failing, then, in all these arguments, and driven to the conclusion that their scheme promises neither redress for the past, nor security for the future, as a desperate resort the Secessionists are forced to become prophets, and in this character they assure us that a separate national existence would prove so fortunate to South Carolina that the spectacle of her prosperity would of itself invite and induce the other States to leave the Union and join her.
It is difficult to foresee the consequences which are to result from any radical change of government. England did not anticipate the rule of Cromwell, nor the return of Charles II.; nor did France anticipate the despotism of Napoleon, or the iron yoke of the Holy Alliance, at the commencement of their revolutions. Nor can we, accustomed as we are to our free institutions, realize what will be the state of things in a small State like ours, under rulers who must have at their command a standing army, and, perhaps, a navy. It would be no bold prediction, however, to affirm that our liberties would not be increased under the sway of those passions which have lately been exhibited in our State. Where the counsel of a veteran statesman, who had given his whole soul and energies to the common cause, like Langdon Cheves, is listened to only as an act of courtesy in their own leaders, it is not likely that humbler expostulation would be even tolerated; and it has already been surmised that to dispute by argument even the measures of those who for the time constitute the State, is a political crime. Men who, at the beginning of a revolution, can associate their peaceful fellow-citizens with the horrors of Moscow, are not likely to become more temperate by the increased excitement of its progress.
But passing this by, and assuming that a second Washington will be raised up for us to restrain all extravagancies, let us enter upon the examination of this separate nationality of South Carolina.
The declarations of the officers of the government, together with the activity now manifested at the forts, assure us that secession will not be a peaceful remedy. They intend to hold these forts, if they can, and they intend to consider us as in the Union, notwithstanding our secession. The experience of the past shows that Congress will confirm these views, and will confer on the government all the power necessary to carry them out.
A disturbance of the trade of Charleston, and a removal of its active capital, will be the first visible result. The city of Savannah will complete, in a few months, its connection by railroad with Augusta, and it
is already in full communication with the interior by Macon. The bulk of our business at Charleston is with Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee. It is a fact no less lamentable than true, that South Carolina contributes a small proportion comparatively to the import trade of Charleston. The merchant, therefore, will meet his customers and supply their wants with just as much facility at Savannah as at Charleston. The distance to the interior is the same, the facilities equal; and the advantage to Charleston now is, that the capital dwells here. A blockade, however, of Charleston, if it be merely on paper, with the port of Savannah wide open, would at once transfer the whole of this trade. Commerce is always timid, and at Savannah no difficulty would exist; at Charleston the ingenuity of our adversaries would create many; and the first act which Congress would pass would fill the Savannah river with our trade.
What, then, would be the condition of our railroads and other public enterprises? In the outset, the transportation of all the trade transferred to Savannah would be lost; and whatsoever should go by railroad to Augusta must stop at the frontier and be entered at some customhouse on the other side, as from a foreign port; and passengers and goods must become subject to all the vexation incident to such visitation.
2. The next effect visible would be upon all the trades and business which depend upon commerce. The occupations of many must absolutely cease within the city; and the business of all must be greatly diminished. And in regard to the country the extent of injury done must depend upon those over whom we have no control. If Congress should choose to take away from Charleston the privileges of a port of entry, or even without doing this should make other ports more advantageous, the rice and cotton of the planter would have to bear these burdens or find their way to Savannah or Wilmington. The disturbance which would thus be produced between banks and factors, between debtors and creditors, would be of a character which I cannot pretend to foresee. A general result, however, of injury and ruin must follow.
3. An immense immigration would take place of all those who would prefer to remove their slaves into the extensive territory of the other States, before the final consummation of the secession scheme should prevent them; and afterwards a corresponding depreciation of slave property from the inability to remove them to the other States, which secession would produce. The foreign demand even now is considered by the brokers as increasing the price to nearly one hundred dollars a head. The destruction of that demand is a proportionate destruction of value to the whole State. For after secession is consummated no negro can be removed from South Carolina to the other States of the Union.