The South and a Republican Administration

Cincinnati Daily Commercial, October 18, 1860

The article from the Charleston Mercury on the "Terrors of Submission," which will be found in another column, is given as a specimen of Southern fanaticism. It is an attempt to sum up the evils to which the South would be subject in case she submitted to the inauguration of a Republican President; and the special effort is to show those evils to be greater than those which would arise from a dissolution of the Union. Our readers will be surprised at the weakness of the case made out by the Editor of the Mercury, whose ability and sincerity there is no reason to question. We must pronounce the several propositions which he submits, ill-considered, imaginative, illogical, and in great part absurd. Yet this is the only attempt we have seen to place the terrors of submission before the public in definite and intelligible form. The Editor of the Mercury is the only man in the United States, within our knowledge, who has had the temerity to undertake to show how and wherein the "submission" of the South would be more calamitous than dissolution.

The first thing that suggests itself to say to men who are of the persuasion of the Charleston Mercury, is that the South is not called on in any offensive or degrading sense to submit. There can be no dishonor and no terror in acquiescing in the inauguration of a President constitutionally elected, and in his administration, under the Constitution, of the Federal Government. The demand of the Northern or Republican sentiment of the country, is simply that the general government shall not be the propagandist of a sectional institution. The great mass of the people are tired of the preponderance in the affairs of our government of the master class of the slave States. It is clear that the PIERCE and BUCHANAN administrations have been implements in the hands of this class. The people of the Northern States owe it to their sense of patriotism and self-respect, to put a stop to the employment of the government in this way. The Republican party has been produced by the irrationally arrogant demands of the politicians of the South, and systematic aggressions by the, use of the Federal power. Its mission is to check those aggressions. This it is competent to do, according to the laws and constitution of the United States and the several States, peaceably, and for the benefit of the whole. This it will do, and the South is brought face to face with the fact.—The politicians of the South assume to distrust the Republican party—to count those who are attached to it as enemies—and to arraign its policy as hostile to their section. Now all this argues lamentable ignorance or more lamentable perversity. There is not an item in the Republican platform indicative of hostility to the South; and there are no utterances by those who would shape the policy of the party, if it should come into possession of power, that would authorize any alarm as to its intentions. It contains, to be sure, rash and extreme men, but not those most rash and extreme on the subject of the abolition of slavery. Undoubtedly, the masses of the party have as friendly a regard for the South, as the masses of any other party in the north. They are opposed to the extension of slavery, and to interference with it. They are for non-intervention by Government with the subject—against any attempted abolition of slavery by Government, as well as against the propagation of slavery by the same agent. The natural forces will be sufficient to accomplish all that is desirable in the restriction of slavery.

The Mercury apprehends, if a Republican President should be inaugurated, "a powerful consolidation of the Abolition party of the North." As the Mercury has from long habit become incapable of courtesy to those who disagree with it in opinion on the slavery question, the fact that it invariably speaks of Republicans as Abolitionists, is one which we can afford to overlook. But it is a question yet to be determined, whether the possession of the Federal Government would consolidate or destroy the Republican party. If Mr. LINCOLN should undertake to discriminate against, disparage, and harrass the South—if he should do those things which his pro-slavery opponents say he would do—the result would be the destruction of the party placing him in power. If Mr. LINCOLN should be inaugurated President of the United States on the fourth of March next, (as we believe he will be,) he would not have a majority of partizan supporters in either branch of Congress. Consequently, if he were ever so much of an Abolitionist, there could not be any offensive legislation. And as for the second Congress of his term, if his Administration were really sectional, he would be condemned by an overwhelming majority of every State in the Union, except, perhaps, two in New England, and two in the extreme Northwest; and his condemnation would appear in Congress. If, on the other hand, Mr. LINCOLN should be a National President, in the wide and excellent sense of the term, and administer the laws faithfully, as all persons who have had opportunities for appreciating his character believe he would—and as the Republican sentiment demands that he should—why the South would have nothing to complain of.—The Southern politicians, who have ruled the nation by false cries and inordinate assumptions, will of course be exasperated if they should find their occupation gone. But the Southern people will see that the tremendous buggaboo which has been exhibited before them with such ghastly effects, is a false pretense. And there will be a great calm. The muddy waters in which the politicians have been dabbling will run clear. There will be legitimate peace and wholesome progress. It is possible, however, that the Mercury fears this peace—and would stigmatize it in advance as Southern lethergy. Indeed it will appear upon close examination of the Mercury's article, that the great fear is the spread of Republican sentiment among the people of the South.

So far as that is concerned, it is an eventuality against which no precautions can avail, and we can not bring ourselves to look with regret or fear upon a prospect of the enlightenment of the Southern people. The Mercury says:

"The tenure of slave property will be felt to be weakened; and the slaves will be sent down to the Cotton States for sale, and the Frontier States enter on the policy of making themselves Free States."

Are we to understand the Mercury that its policy of disunion is to prevent the Frontier slave States from entering upon the policy of making themselves free States? If the Frontier slave States wish to send their slaves South and become free, who shall stand in the way? We are prepared to say that a Republican National Administration would certainly not discourage any such proceeding.

The Mercury continues:

"They will have an Abolition Party in the South, of Southern men. The contest for Slavery will no longer be one between the North and the South. It will be in the South, between the people of the South."

Well, that will depend upon the men of the South. And if there is to be a contest on the subject of slavery anywhere, the South is the place for it. The Mercury surely manifests very little confidence in the soundness of the people of the South on the slavery question. And when it speaks of an union organization in the South to support a Republican Administration, can it mean that a party will be found in the South countenancing aggressions upon that section and seeking to lay it waste? Are communities in the habit of making war upon themselves? If a Republican party would spring up in the South, at the nod of a Republican Administration—if the weight of the Federal Government on the side of slavery is all that prevents the formation of a Republican party in the South—it is time the fact were known. The logic of the Mercury certainly is, that the South is a section under a sort of Federal martial law. If this were true, what possible remedy would disunion be? If there would be a Republican party in the South, immediately upon the inauguration of a Republican President, there would be a Northern party there if the Confederacy were dissolved, which would be still more dangerous to the peculiar institution of the South.

The sixth of the Mercury's twelve propositions is well calculated to produce a panic in the South; and nothing has been printed for years that will give more comfort to the extreme anti-slavery men of the North. Is this sensitive, timorous thing of slavery, described as now quivering with fears, that which has been boastfully proclaimed as the mud-sill of society—the corner-stone of the Republic—the natural condition of the races, ordained by GOD, and of matchless beneficence? We would say to the South, beware of these panic-mongers. The real incendiaries, who endanger Southern society, are not those who are advocating the election of ABRAHAM LINCOLN, and hoping for an administration of the Government at his hands, that will give peace to the country; but the pro-slavery politicians, those who have obtained place and conspicuity by demagoguery, in the name of slavery, and who are now croaking of dire calamities if a President should be constitutionally elected, who does not bow down before the cotton crop and the laborers who produce it. Those who are bringing Southern society, and all that the South most prizes, into peril, are the fanatical Southerners, who assume that if their local prejudices are not humored, the nation must fall straightway into a condition of unquenchable combustion.

The proposition of the Mercury, that the Southern States withdraw from the Union before the conclusion of Mr. BUCHANAN'S Administration, is the one above all others that we would have advanced, if we had been solicitous for the introduction of the irrepressible conflict, in its most dangerous form, into the South. It is a proposition which, if seriously agitated in the South, would rouse the people, and the disunionists would, in the language of the Mercury, be "crushed and cursed as the flagitious cause of the disasters around them." The Mercury, in attempting to set forth the terrors of submission, has surely shown up, with singular vividness, the horrors of disunion, and indicated more unmistakably than ever, that it cannot be a remedy for any evils that may befal the South, but would immeasurably increase and aggravate them all.