The Mississippi River
Burlington Daily Hawk-Eye, February 8, 1861
We, in Iowa, can stand secession very well, so long as it consists only in resolutions. We look upon State Conventions and the solemn signing of the parchment with the utmost equanimity. We even tolerate the bloodless capture of undefended forts, with only a muttered curse or two in resistance. All the while, our farmers sell their hogs and corn, and prepare for the coming season, as if we were the farthest distance imaginable from civil war. They know that when the game is played out, it is as easy for the seceders to pass an ordinance declaring themselves in, as it has been to declare themselves out, and that so far from any attack being made by them upon the North, they will need all their forces to protect them from themselves.
Every one must notice how little excitement the secession of the South created in our State. It is discussed coolly and dispassionately, as any every-day matter, in which only a common interest is taken. But our people are firm, and will not consent to be oppressed, or to have their rights and privileges abridged. While they pass by the ordinances of disunion as the petulance of a spoiled child, which will end soonest by being allowed to vent itself unresisted, they will not consent to have their peaceful trade and commerce impeded. They will not consent to have the Mississippi River obstructed. They claim that it is a great natural highway in which Illinois and Minnesota and Iowa have as deep an interest as Louisiana.—Mr. Slidell, in his speech to the Senate, was forced to say that Louisiana recognized such a claim and would do nothing to conflict with it. But Senator Slidell, though there are few shrewder politicians in the land, has, like his South Carolina confederates, unchained a mob which it is difficult to control, and the news comes to us daily of outrages upon the peaceable merchants sailing down the river. Steamers and flat-boats are compelled to remain at Vicksburg and other points, at a heavy loss, and in many instances at a total sacrifice. Such outrages are increasing with each successive day.
"Whom the Gods would destroy they first make mad!" These land-pirates must be blind indeed not to see that by such acts they are building up a more bitter and unappeasable party against them in the Northwest than the most radical Abolitionists,—a party whose lack of principle in the matter, if there be such, is more than compensated by attacks upon their pockets. They are for the most part little conversant with politics, or, if partisans, are generally those men who come among us and prate of Southern wrongs and the beauties of slavery,—men chiefly from Southern Illinois and Indiana. But it will require but few repetitions of such piracy to give them new ideas upon Southern institutions, and put those ideas in such practice as will give Mississippi and Louisiana some lessons which they have never yet learned, as to the power of the Northwest. And one of those lessons will be, that whatever may be the result of the present complications,—union or separation,—peace or war,—the Mississippi must forever remain to the Northwest free and unobstructed.