Do It with Your Eyes Open
Chicago Daily Times and Herald, November 6, 1860
The course of the Republican leaders has been to blind the people of the North to the true feelings and position of the Southern States. The efforts to blind them, and keep them blinded, have been unceasing and determined.
It is not only due to the South, but it is a matter of sheer justice to ourselves, that we should act with our eyes wide open in this perilous crisis. He who would suppress the truth, and delude the people in this dangerous hour, is a moral traitor to the country and the enemy of American civilization and liberty.
The people of the South have never wronged the North nor felt like doing so. Fire-eating disunionists have insulted us, and committed personal indignity upon some individuals; but the Southern people have never sought nor desired to force their institutions upon us, nor to attack those which we already possess. Under these circumstances, then, the South had a right to expect that her rights under the Constitution would be maintained in good faith and her peace respected. Has this been done so far as the Republican party is concerned? Have the South just reason to believe that it will be done, if they win the election? Let facts speak.
For thirty years and more, there has been a continuous war waged upon the institutions, property and constitutional rights of the people of the South. They have the undoubted right to a return of their fugitive slaves. This right is directly overridden by State legislation by more than half of the Northern States, and its practical benefits utterly denied in nearly all of them. They have the undoubted moral and constitutional right to judge of their own institutions, and to the peaceable enjoyment of such as they may adopt. And yet the Northern agitators have, for thirty years, kept them in hot water by their incendiary efforts against their most vital institution; have organized a system of robbery of their property; have already robbed them of millions' worth of that property, and as time progresses have only increased their efforts to render it more insecure and worthless. The people of the South have an undoubted right to peace and repose in the Union, with whatever domestic institutions they may have. And yet- these anti-slavery agitators have rendered insecure every home south of Mason & Dixon's line, and by their machinations have induced armed bands of fanatics to invade the peaceful homes of the South; have stirred up servile insurrections, and have caused bloodshed and crimes of the most atrocious character. These acts of hatred and aggression have grown in number and atrocity, as time has advanced, until the Southern people feel that there is to be no end to them, and that there is no hope of safety for life or property in the present condition of things. Should matters even grow no worse than they have been in the last five years, they regard such a state of insecurity and excitement as utterly intolerable and subversive of the very ends for which governments a[re] formed.
But the most terrible feature of this fanatical movement has yet to be told. The enemies of the South, not contented with nullifying the fugitive slave law, the establishment of the underground railroad system, the bloody raid of John Brown, and the general terror and crimes caused by servile insurrection, have banded together to control the people of the North, and by getting a majority—not of the votes in the whole country, but a majority of one section only—to seize every branch of the common government, and thus exclude one whole section of the country from all participation in the government of the country. By this unheard of movement, they propose to govern the Union by not over one third of its voters,—and those voters all in one section! If this were a mere temporary spite at the South, it would create less alarm. But when the South sees that it is the result of a settled and fierce determination to rule over and oppress in defiance of her wishes, safety and rights—when she sees her people systematically and villainously slandered, to bring them into contempt and hatred before the Northern masses,—when they see the Lincolns, the Sewards, the Greeleys, the Wentworths and every moving spirit of this aggressive attack, proclaiming boldly to the world that this war upon them is "irrepressible," and never to end until all the States shall be free and until every negro shall have the ballot to vote or the bullet to slay,—when they see a perpetual unrelenting war proclaimed against their property and peace, and the determination of a sectional majority to wield the money, arms and powers of the common government to aid in this monstrous and inhuman war. When they see themselves thus powerless to defend themselves in the Union, they begin to turn, with maddened sorrow and tears, to examine what hope there is for them out of the Union.
Such are now the views and feelings of even conservative men of all parties at the South. With these views her people are arming at the cost of millions for their defence, and the spirit of rebellion and disunion hourly grows more rampant and determined.
Think of these things, patriotic men of the North of all parties; and if there be reason in these complaints of our Southern citizens, redress them at the polls, like honest and patriotic men should do. You have the power—use it, not only justly, but generously and nobly.