Charlottesville Review, January 4, 1861
We are among those who believe that the United States is a government, and not a league. We regard the Constitution as a fundamental national law, and not as a treaty. We consider that we are citizens of the United States, and owe an allegiance to the Federal Government. Any resistance to the Federal authority we regard as rebellion.
We moreover love the United States. We revere that magnificent government which, formed with so much difficulty, and by so many compromises, has thrown over us its shield for seventy years, and raised us to our present dominion and greatness. It is to us the palladium of civil liberty at home, and in the world. We do not regard the Union as having been oppressive to one section or the other. We do not regard the South or the North as having dominated over the other section, or taken to itself the main benefits of the Confederation. The influence of the National Government seems to us in nearly all things to have been beneficent and enabling to all the States of the Union.—So far from considering that an irreconcilable conflict exists between the sections of the country, we esteem the welfare of each to be bound up with that of the other, and the interests to be co-ordinate and conjunctive.
When the Gulf States complain that the existing imposts of the country have built up the North to their impoverishment, we have argued that the Tariff, if it benefited Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, did not injure South Carolina and Georgia. That even if it was unjust to South Carolina and Georgia, it was equally onerous against Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, and nearly all of the non-slaveholding States. And this will appear when South Carolina undertakes to establish a revenue system of her own, for she will find that she will have to levy at least three dollars of taxes on her people to one that she has paid in the present Union. It was necessary that the United States should have manufactories somewhere, and if Pennsylvania and Connecticut and Massachusetts were the best points to locate them, the existence of those manufactories, while it specially benefited these particular States, generally benefited the whole country, just as the existence of the great city of New York, or the city of New Orleans, appreciates the value of property throughout the Union.
On the other hand the staples of the South have been poured into the lap of the North, in return for the manufactured articles which they have sent us.
So important do we regard the Union, so much do we cherish it, that the pulling down of its splendid columns is to us like the fall of the paternal walls and roof, and the demolition of all the most endearing emblems of home. We know that we shall never find any other such country. We know that we shall never see any other such flag. We know we shall never stand up as proudly and as exultant under any other nationality.
Therefore, with our views of the nature of the government, and with these affections towards the Union, under any ordinary circumstances, the feeling at the South in favor of resisting the impetus and intemperate action of South Carolina, would extort from us the most hearty and unqualified sympathy.
Even as the matter stands, we entertain towards South Carolina the most bitter resentment. We feel that she has not only precipitately thrown down the bulwarks of the Union, and inaugurated on her own responsibility revolution and anarchy; but she has done so with the full knowledge—aye, the intention—to hold Virginia and the border States between her and the Storm, and to carry out her caprices, regardless of these border States, while relying on them.
But—however it has been done—an issue has been made. The subjection of South Carolina or any seceding State, in consequence of their determination not to submit to the policy of the Republicans, is a blow at the entire South—subjection to all. We are, thenceforth, humiliated. We are conquered. We could not hold up our heads in that Union any more. We would meet a Northern man as the Saxon met the Norman.
Our fellow-countrymen at the North can undertake to preserve this Union with the sword, if they shall deem it wise. They may consider South Carolina, Alabama, or Mississippi, as in a state of secession or rebellion. The naked fact is, that, at the South, upon any display of force, whether belonging to the political school of Mr. CALHOUN or Mr. WEBSTER, every sword will leap from its scabbard from the mouth of the Susquehanna to those of the Mississippi.
Is there any man at the North who loves the Union? As one loving it equally as well, we implore him to utter that word no more. The Southern people will stake all upon war, if war must come; and if the superior numbers of the North expect to subdue fifteen Southern States, with a population of eight millions of whites, of undoubted courage, they may fairly rely upon war.
Numbers—numbers of the people of Virginia—who are outraged by the insulting attitude of South Carolina—nevertheless, see that it is best, in the matter of the forts, to even bear with it—for the sake of the future.
The heart of Virginia yearns towards the Union. If the Northern people feel an interest in the Union, let them co-operate to pluck it from the present fearful peril. Every word of menace in a northern paper—every threat and taunt from the Republican leaders—swells and deepens the tide of Secession. We do not expect anything of the New York Tribune: why does the New York Times, the Courier and Enquirer, the Springfield Republican, use words of bitterness? If they are determined against all adjustment, if civil war is inevitable in their view, it were still in better taste on their part and ours, to draw the sword in silence.
If this question is to be referred to a National Convention—when each party will have had the great element of Time—no invective and no blood had better intervene.
After that, if the Northern people think proper—and in the meantime they can get ready—if there is no adjustment, the war can commence.
We think it a great misfortune that there is not at present a calm interchange of opinion between the Northern and Southern press. There is not the slightest occasion for any exasperation of language. Let us behave with courtesy.
One word, and we are done: The Northern press rest their uncompromising opposition to such an adjustment as the Missouri Compromise line, on their conscientious objections to extending slavery. Any adjustment of this question between the North and the South would contain a provision against the reopening of the African Slave Trade. Therefore the number of slaves, would not be (materially) increased by allowing it to go to the territories. Slavery would be diffused, but not increased. Or rather it would shift its location. Missouri, Kentucky, &c., would in process of time, become free, and their slaves would go to the Cotton States, and the new Slave Territories.—Each new slave territory would drain a border State; the area of slavery would not really be enlarged.
On the other hand, if the South has no outlet for its slaves, in the process of time, it would become Africanized. The tide of emigration from the border States might be even arrested, and Slavery fastened where under the principle of expansion, it would otherwise cease.
Now, does any fair-minded anti-slavery man desire this? Does he wish to overwhelm the South with a slave, or free, negro population?
At all events, under such a view of the case, is the position of the South on this question, a singular one? Does it not, even in the eyes of an anti-slavery man give great force to their claim of "equality" in the territories—even supposing slavery a great evil? Is it the mission of the United States government to dam up slavery, until the South is submerged?