The Sowers of Discord
Columbus Daily Ohio Statesman, June 18, 1861
Those journalists, professed adherents to the Republican party, who represent the designs of the Administration in carrying on the present war to be different from the purposes avowed in official documents emanating from the President and Secretary of State, are doing a serious injury to the country in weakening the hands of the loyalists and strengthening those of the rebels. Regarded as the organs of their party and of the Administration, they widen the breach between the two sections of our common country, causing the Southern people to unite in a more determined opposition to the Federal Government, and dividing Union men upon questions that should not be mooted, until the paramount question of the day as to the permanence of the Union is placed beyond peradventure.
Both President LINCOLN and Secretary SEWARD have repeatedly assured the country and the world, in official State papers, that the sole object of the recent armaments by sea and land was to repossess the forts, arsenals and other Federal property, to execute the Federal laws, and maintain the Constitution and preserve the Union as it is, or was before the breaking out of the rebellion. The loyal men of the country are disposed to take the Administration at its word, and to believe it sincere in making these declarations. It is this confidence in its integrity that has rallied the masses to the support of its war measures. While this confidence remains unshaken and the Administration is found faithfully redeeming the pledges it has given, no fears and no distrust need be entertained of the fidelity and unanimity of the people in seconding its efforts for crushing out rebellion and preserving the Union.
But there are in the Republican camp enemies to the Union, to call them by no harsher name, who are indefatigable in sowing among the people the seeds of distrust and doubt as to the real designs of the Administration in this war. It is said, that at first, the object was merely to repossess the public property, to collect the revenue and execute the laws; but that subsequent events have changed the original purpose into one of extermination against the institution of slavery; and some go so far as to assert that, if necessary for wiping out the last vestige of human bondage on American soil, State Governments must be destroyed and State lines obliterated. This is clinched by the assertion that as slavery is the cause of all our troubles, it must be extirpated at any cost and any sacrifice.
The assertion that the present war is, on the part of the Administration, a crusade against slavery or any local State institution, is made in the face of repeated declarations to the contrary by the President and his Secretary of State. They have not indicated in any public document the slightest change of policy in this respect. The intimation, therefore, that there has been such a change is utterly gratuitous and without foundation, unless we are to credit the monstrous assumption that the Administration has secret designs and ultimate objects in carrying on the war, which are studiously concealed from the great public, and only revealed to a faithful few, who are permitted to sound the alarm in whisperings and surmises, for the purpose of rendering effectual and certain the final severance of the Union.
The legitimate as well as the avowed object of the Federal Government, in initiating the present war movements, is to maintain the supremacy of the Constitution and laws and preserve the integrity of the Union. To maintain these necessarily involves the maintenance of the State Governments, and their constitutions and laws, so far as these are not contrary to the Constitution and laws of the United States. The Union cannot be preserved without preserving the States in their appropriate and constitutional spheres, for without these, there can be no Union, but only one single consolidated Republic or Empire. Hence, this is not, and must not be made a war upon any legitimate State Government or upon any constitutional State institution, as in that case it would become a war upon the Union itself, which it is the declared purpose of the Federal Government to maintain and defend.
The great stimulent to the secession fever in the South is the repeated assertion in the Republican journals in the North that the Administration is engaged in a war of extermination against slavery and even against the constitutional existence of separate States. This is construed and aggravated into a threatened despotism, and paralyzes the efforts of the Union men in the South to stem the tide of rebellion. It also distracts the loyal people in the Northern States by raising false issues and renewing old political grudges and animosities. We do not charge the men who thus promote discord and disunion by false representations of the avowed policy of the Administration, with treason; but they are certainly no friends to the Union or to the peace of the country.