The Attitude of the South
New Orleans Daily Delta, May 2, 1860
The disruption of the Charleston Convention is a catastrophe which, however much its necessity may be deplored by those who hoped for united and harmonious action, must be regarded as the natural and justifiable consequence of the arrogant pretensions set up by the Northern delegations to govern the Convention in its choice of a nominee, and to impose upon it a platform of principles which would be rejected by every Southern State.
The course pursued by the Southern delegations justifies the confidence reposed in them by their constituents. It is the logical culmination of the principles universally avowed by the Southern Democracy, as well as an inevitable political necessity. Submission to the rule of the sectional majority of the Convention would have been the death of the Southern Democracy. It would have been as fatal to the vitality of the Democratic party, as a party of principle, and as the defender of Southern rights and interests, as submission to Black Republican domination would be fatal to the equality of the South in the Union and under the Constitution.
The Southern delegates to the Convention have seen the inseparable connection existing between the logic of the Union and the logic of the Democratic party. They have heard the Southern people, the Southern press, and Southern politicians proclaim that a sectionalization of the Federal Government would be not only a good reason, but a peremptory reason, for severing the connection between the North and the South. They have thought, and justly thought, that for much stronger reasons, the sectionalization of the Democratic party demands a separation of the Southern Democracy from the Democratic party.
There is no need for them to entertain any doubts of the manner in which their constituents will receive the news of their action. They will not be required to defend their course or justify their acts before a disappointed or unsympathizing people. The demonstrations of joy exhibited by the Charlestonians, the congratulations offered to the seceding delegates for their manly and determined course, their firm and impressive attitude, are only premonitory indications of the electrical effect which the receipt of the intelligence will produce throughout the South. There can be no doubt that the Southern Democracy, with the rare exceptions of timorous and trembling conservatism, embraced within even the most progressive of parties, or the perhaps more numerous exceptions of spoils-hunting and office-seeking partisans which afflict every party, will enthusiastically indorse and sustain the action of their representatives at Charleston. Only submission to the tyranny of the sectional majority by the acceptance of a platform utterly opposed to every principle of Southern and State Rights Democracy would have placed them in the position of culprits before the South and forced them to the task of an onerous and impracticable defense.
We hope that the Southern delegations will stand firm, and make no concession involving the smallest sacrifice of principle. As Ex-Governor Mouton, the Nestor of the Louisiana Democracy, very justly said: “If we are to fight the Black Republicans, in company with the Northern Democracy, we must fight them with the same weapons and exhibit the same front.” It is perfectly plain that if the two sections differ on a question which is a vital question, and which involves cardinal and fundamental principles, they no longer belong to the same party. They are, in fact, two parties, distinctly marked and widely separated. To go into an election in company would be a mockery and a farce; but an adjournment of an inevitable conflict, in which the longer the issue is deferred, the more certain becomes defeat and subjugation to the South.
1. Senators Graham N. Fitch of Indiana, William Bigler of New York, Jesse D. Bright of Indiana, William M. Gwin of California; and Fernando Wood, Democratic Mayor of New York City, 1855–1857, 1861–1862.
2. Alexander Mouton, Governor of Louisiana, 1842–1846; President of the Louisiana State Convention which voted the State out of the Union, January, 1861.