The position has been assumed and boldly argued by several of the leading and most influential papers of the Union that any State of the Union has a right to secede from the United Confederacy at its own pleasure, and that there is no power in our government to coerce them back again.

President Buchanan, it is said, assumes the ground that he cannot interfere to save the Union from overthrow, unless he is authorized to do so by a special act of Congress. Col. Forney, in the Press, takes issue with the rest, which admits the right of secession, and also with the President himself, and very truly declares that if any State in this Union may secede at pleasure, and with impunity set up a standard of revolt, there is an end to our Federal compact, and therefore an end to the Republican experiment in this hemisphere.

The ground upon which the President assumes that he has no power to compel the return of seceding States to the Union, is that because the “first and fifth sections of the force bill of 1834,—which authorizes the President to employ the army and the navy in executing obedience to the law—expired within the year 1834, therefore the law conferring such authority must be revived, in order that full efficiency may be given to the Executive arm.”

If such is the case; if within our government there is no controlling power by which it is held together and preserved by which States can be compelled to recognize the united compact, then it is clear beyond cavil that the laws of the United States are subject to nullification any day, or upon any pretense by any State which may take a notion to slide out. This doctrine may be right—but we cannot see it in that light. There should be in every government some controlling instinct for self preservation, and we have yet to believe that there is none in this republic of ours, though after all, it may be that Congress will have to convene and pass an act similar to the force bill of ’34 [sic], before any step can be taken by the Executive. If such is the case, we would humbly recommend that such an act be kept in force for future use, not that it is advisable to make use of force only as a dernier resort. The first movements should be calm and conciliating—avoiding force of any kind if possible, attempting to convince the stubborn child of the errors of its way, and use force only when nullification becomes too flagrant to be endured.

We are yet of the opinion that there will be secession on the part of some of the Southern States, but we cannot yet clearly discover how that “peaceable se[ce]ssion” which is so much talked of, can be accomplished. It will be difficult to secede without nullification, and with it civil war must ensue. Others view the matter differently, but we can see nothing but union or fight, and we fear the latter will be the ruinous alternative.