Southern Outrages

Daily Chicago Times, December 14, 1860

Already have the Abolition journals commenced the system of horrifying the public by tales of Southern outrages and Southern barbarity, for the purpose of maddening people and rendering a peaceful solution of our difficulties impossible. The "Kansas shrieking" has commenced again, with renewed vigor and recklessness. The ears of the public are besieged with the recitals of the most inhuman monstrosities of "men barrelled up alive and rolled into the Mississippi river for having voted for Lincoln;" of "beating, burning, hanging and drowning American citizens, who are innocent of offences known to the laws," &c., &c. We are aware how difficult it is to keep pace in contradiction with the footsteps of those who thus maliciously stir up the public passions, but we cannot suffer such inhuman misrepresentations as these to mislead the public mind in such a time as this, without at least entering our protest. To make such basely false charges for even ordinary party purposes is unpardonable; but to make them now, in the present state of the country, is superhuman folly and wickedness.

We have a list of exchanges that covers every State from Maine to Texas. They are daily examined in this office, and we unhesitatingly assert and believe that no man has been put in jeopardy of life or limb in the Southern States, by reason of his vote or opinions. As to the horrible sacrifices before alluded to, they are unmitigated falsehoods. In spite of the miserable falsehoods of men who have been warned and compelled to leave the South, as suspected or guilty persons, we have had numbers of letters published to the world from Northern men, who declare that no honest gentleman from the North need fear danger in the South, even in the present excitement; and on the very day our Chicago papers published an account of the expulsion of a citizen of Chicago from New Orleans, one of our most gentlemanly citizens was present in our officer, who had been South and declared that he was pleased; that he thought he should prefer to live there, and that no man who behaved like a man and talked like a man had any reason to apprehend ill-treatment. There has been no man hung or executed in the South, since the Presidential election, on account of his opinions. Even in South Carolina, where they compelled a man to leave the State, they paid his entire expense in going to and from the State, and advised him to return home. The Chicago man declares that he saw two men hanging near the railroad track as he came through Mississippi. He saw no such thing—he might have seen Lincoln and Hamlin hung in effigy, but that was all. We repeat that in all this intense excitement no human life has been sacrificed.

The extent to which the vigilance committees have gone has been to order persons to leave the country. The Southern people are in the midst of revolution. Numberless insurrections have been plotted in their midst. Their servants have a notion that the election of Lincoln is to free them. It is of course impossible to disguise to the negroes what is going on, and the present state of things heightens the danger of a servile war. The very journals which are loudest in their denunciations against these committees of safety, boastingly claim that the South will scarcely be able to repress her own negroes. Owing, therefore, to the peculiar position of affairs and the nature of slave property, every sane man must expect that a most stringent guard will be kept over the slaves in the present crisis, and the utmost vigilance used to prevent persons from tampering with them. The South will of necessity, during the present agitation and strife, be placed under a species of martial law. The ordinary forms of justice and law would furnish no guaranty for their safety from rebellion and assassination. Every man must expect that a sense of sheer self-preservation will compel those people to resort to a most rigid surveillance over their domestic safety. To complain of this as a grievance to the North, when the very necessity for it is created by the North, is sheer nonsense. It is a necessity resulting from our own acts. The very chief cause, that lies at the bottom of the present American revolution, is the fact that Northern anti-slavery agitation armed the assassin and slave against the life and peace of the Southern people. Let any human being read the letter, written by a lady to her Northern friends, and published by the Republican journals, describing the state of apprehension existing in the South, and felt by every family, and then ask himself if it is to be expected that those people will use less than the most stringent vigilance to protect their lives. That acts of injustice, and a want of correct discrimination, may exist, no one could fail to anticipate. It is impossible, under the existing state of excitement, fear and rage, that it should be otherwise. But no sensible man can for one moment close his eyes to the fact that this surveillance has been forced upon them by our own incendiary movements, which have endangered every home in the South, and that we are but reaping the fruit we have sown. Before this intermeddling took place on our part, Northern men were as safe in the South as in their own parlors. If our conduct has rendered our neighbors afraid of us, we must bear to be watched, in proportion to the danger. The fact that the people of the South are afraid of us is too plain. But the most painful part in all such matters is, that the innocent must, to some extent, share the difficulties caused by the guilty. It is from the very nature of the case impossible that those people can know whom to suspect. Every man must suffer from the general suspicion, unless he can give evidence of his character and peaceful intent. Men who go to the South to breed insurrections never tell their purpose, but take great pains to conceal it.

It is utterly foolish to suppose that the people of the South would go to all the expense and trouble of the present vigilance system, against men they did not fear and where they were not in danger. If therefore, peaceable men are unjustly suspected, they must charge it to the vile and wicked cause that has rendered such suspicion a necessity.

But a word as to the object and effect of all this unreasonable construction of the real facts, and perversion of the truth by Republican journals. When the horrible murders of the Montgomery band are mentioned by them, it is with every possible palliation. When they speak of the disorders naturally resulting from the state of terror and madness created by their own acts in the South, they monstrously falsify and misrepresent the truth. Laying aside the miserable injustice of such a course, what must be its effect? It can but, and does simply, drive the disunion wedge deeper and deeper, and render all hope of adjustment more and more remote. This is a terrible policy. It is utterly impossible for the Democratic journals to succeed in calming this strife, if Republican papers commence this system of perversion, exaggeration and excitement of passion. We at once admit that, with all the effort that can be made, we shall never be able to stem the tide. Let these journals pause in their mad career, and, if they will not, let the people be prepared to have another reign of "Kansas-shrieking" and martyr-making, such as the world never witnessed before.