The Duty of the Commercial Community of the North at the Present Time
New York Daily News, June 10, 1861
It may perhaps be true, that a majority of the people of the Northern States, misled by the false representations industriously circulated under the authority of the Administration, appeared inclined, during the few days succeeding the bombardment of Fort Sumter, to tolerate the adoption of coercive anti-secession measures against the South. It is beyond all question, however, that an immense reaction has since taken place, and that by far the greater number of our intelligent and thinking merchants, tradesmen, manufacturers and mechanics—those in fact who have solid interests at stake in the community, which are being jeoparded by the war—now heartily repudiate the despotic madness that is hurrying the Republic to destruction; and contemplate with terror and dismay the prospect before us. They look forward with anxiety and dread to the developments of each succeeding day, and shrink aghast from the yawning abyss of ruin into which they clearly perceive that a six months' continuance of Mr. Lincoln's atrocious Abolition policy must inevitably engulf the remains of our national prosperity. Yet, holding, as these classes of our citizens do, the future destinies of the country in their hands, if they could but unite their efforts and make their voices heard, they might conjure away the hurricane which is rapidly sweeping us toward anarchy, or a military despotism. It is their duty to do so at once; and we have no hesitation in saying that, if a mass meeting could be convened in this city tomorrow, of all who are really in favor of peace, it would outnumber the monster Union manifestation of six weeks ago, and be characterized by an earnestness and sincerity that were wanting on that occasion.
On the 15th of April the President illegally and unconstitutionally summoned seventy thousand troops to arms to put down "rebellion." A little later he demanded eighty-three thousand more. It was boldly proclaimed by his organs in the Press that, with such an immense array, every trace of secession would be speedily swept away. So far from these predictions having been verified, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and Arkansas have since joined the seven States that had previously withdrawn from the Union, 'and Missouri and Maryland are so disaffected that the loss to the North of a single decided battle will cause them also to cast in their lot with the Southern Confederacy. With such a widened area of conflict the armies assembled are pronounced insuffic[i]ent to coerce the single State of Virginia into submission; and, to save itself from ignominious defeat, the Administration is preparing, in obedience to the outcries of the Abolition Press, to issue a requisition for still another hundred thousand volunteers, although it is not probable they could be pushed southward as far as Richmond, even if they were all marshaled to-day on the southern banks of the Potomac. The expenses of Government are nearly twenty millions of dollars a month, and if the war continues must soon be doubled. A national debt of several hundred millions is in prospect, in face of an impoverished country, and a credit already so impaired that money can only be raised at the most ruinous sacrifices. Martial law has been unconstitutionally proclaimed, the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus has been arbitrarily and tyrannically suspended, and we are on the eve of hostilities with Great Britain, whose fleets will blockade Northern harbors, while opening the ports of the South, besides annihilating our commerce. The Constitution has become a by-word, security of life and property are gone, and notwithstanding this hideous recapitulation of crimes and calamities, the end which has been the hypocritical pretext for them o£ "restoring the unity of the Republic," is further removed than ever before, has become, in truth, nearly hopeless.
The industrial classes of the country are surely and fearfully aware that universal impoverishment and causeless national ruin will be the result of the perpetuation of the reign of terror which has recently gagged men's mouths, crushed out free speech, and aimed to destroy the freedom of the Press. On 'change, in counting-houses and manufactories, in omnibuses and in the street, respectable thinking people are impelled, once more, by sheer necessity, and the law of self-preservation, to speak, and their voices are hourly becoming louder, and more indignant and determined, in behalf of peace, and a cessation of the inroads that are being made upon popular liberties and rights. Sensible Republicans, who, some weeks ago, advocated civil war, confess themselves ashamed of their precipitancy, and are endeavoring to atone for it by assuming a bold and reactionary attitude. Newspapers, traditionally conservative, but frightened by the mob manifestations of the middle of April into conniving at Abolition treason, again venture to declare the truth, and as representatives of the capital and industry of city and country, speak with wonted dignity and firmness of the imperious emergency which demands their efforts to restore peace. No disinterested patriot will refrain from welcoming the aid that may be derived from such sources, because of past momentary weakness. The conduct of Mr. Lincoln and his advisers is hastening the last act of a terrible tragedy. At such a time, when the land is being fast drained of its resources, the lives of tens of thousands of useful men are being offered as a sacrifice to the Moloch of an insatiable and fanatical ambition, and the mismanagement of a few weeks longer may see us plunged into war with England, we devoutly thank the Ruler of the Universe for every single individual who may aid in swelling the avalanche of reaction, which is about to overwhelm Republican misrule.
Corrupt Northern politicians are straining every nerve to close the door forever against friendly relations with the South. They will hasten on and embitter the civil war that has begun through every device in their power. It is the imperative duty of every good citizen, therefore, to throw off the reserve and silence of the past, and to protest openly, and on every occasion, against the continuance of hostilities. The Union may yet be reconstructed; but it cannot be done by violence. The dogged determination of the Administration to precipitate collision between the two sections is the source of all our present dangers. Will the industrial classes of the United States lend themselves as instruments of its diabolical schemes? Will they fire their own dwellings—destroy, with frenzied hands, the magnificent social and political fabric of which the corner-stone was cemented in the blood of their forefathers? If not, let them hereafter think aloud. If they will do so, their voices will drown into silence the crafty disunion utterances, which, for two months past, have represented darkness to be light and light to be darkness.