The Effect of a Peaceable Separation on Trade

Cincinnati Daily Press, February 1, 1861

We desire, in order to prevent misunderstanding and misrepresentation, that our readers will bear in mind the positions we have taken in previous articles on a peaceable separation of the sections, and the establishment of two independent nations, based on the attachment and homogeneousness of the people. We take the Secession of the whole South as an existing fact, either an accomplished fact, or a fact declared by the position taken by those States which have not formally seceded. We assume that coercion is out of the question, and in violation of the principle on which our national independence is founded.

We accept, also, the declarations of the South, that their hostility to a Union with the North goes to the very sentiments, opinions, abstract principles and even religion of the people; which they say make a Union with the North incompatible with their safety; therefore, that no concessions can touch the real seat of the difficulty; and that the only alternative is a peaceable separation, or a bloody civil war, which can have no other end but in separation. We have discussed the effects of separation on the relations of the two sections, and have shown that the Union has resulted in nothing but constantly—increasing hostility, which has reached a degree of intensity that must have relief in some way; and that separation is the only way to peace, and will restore that friendship and mutual respect for the citizens, rights and power of each, which independent nations accord to each other.

We discussed this question in view of its effect on trade, and showed by our own experience with the South and with other nations, that the sectional hostility which the Union creates, is the only hindrance to commercial relations between the North and South; and that separate independence would remove all obstacles, and relieve commerce from the burden of political questions and sectional fanaticism. Separation and independence being the only way to peace, we propose to consider further the effect on trade.

It is the custom of politicians to tell our people that our trade with the South depends on the Union. By this the people of the South are supposed to buy our provisions, machinery, clothes, furniture, etc., because they are joined to us by a bond of Union. Yet if our citizens go South they Lynch them for their residence alone; or in their mildest moods, they give them an hour to leave. Does this show a state of fraternal feeling that drives them North to purchase goods out of pure love for the people who are bound to them by the same glorious Union? They don't serve the British so, who are not protected by the fraternal bonds and the star-spangled banner.

Is there not a slight discrepancy here? Will the Union trade—panic makers state how it is that people, whom Union makes so intensely hostile to us, come to us to trade, out of pure love and natural sympathy? If to state the position did not show to every one the utter absurdity of talking of the Union as a bond of trade, we should despair for the Republic; a thing which Mr. Buchanan very kindly consents not to do, so long as Virginia will demand fresh concessions from the North.

Is there a man who buys what he don't want, because the glorious stripes and stars cover the seller? Will any man pay half a dime extra on a barrel of pork or flour, because it is sold under the Palmetto and Rattlesnake, or the Pelican flag? Now any merchant knows that it is nonsense to talk of any such thing. There is not a merchant of our city who does not know that the laws of trade are the higher-law over political boundaries; and that all which they need is to be relieved from all political considerations, to have their full sway. They overcome even the present sectional fanaticism; and men who at home are compelled to support vigilance committees in driving off or Lynching our citizens, for their residence alone, come here and buy our commodities.

But politicians, who have a place hanging on the Union, or on some party capital to be made out of a pretended worship of the Union, talk as if the trade of Cincinnati were dependent on it; and this is allowed to go as the sentiment of the mercantile and industrial community here. But it is not the sentiment. There is not a man of them, who would not regard one who bought goods which he did not want, on account of the nationality of the seller, as an unsafe customer to trust; and who does not know that supply and demand are supreme over nationalities; and that one per cent. on the price of goods will overcome the strongest national boundary that was ever erected.

England once regarded our union with her as necessary to the relations of trade; but they have been constantly increasing since the separation. The commercial relations between New York and England are more friendly and reliable, and better established on mutual integrity and honor, than between New York and the South. So are the relations of the North with Canada. It is because they are relieved from political considerations. We have referred in a former article to the disposition of South Carolina to make an alliance with England, the foremost antislavery nation in the world. But the South respect anti-slavery sentiment in a separate nation; while they can not endure a Union with it.

Politicians say that the South can produce every thing that it consumes. So can the North. It can produce silk, wine, sugar, brandy, wool, cloths, laces, shawls, calicoes, dye-stuffs, iron, hardware, and almost every thing which it imports. Yet its imports are constantly increasing. Why does not the South produce that which it buys of the North? Simply because it can do better. For precisely the same reason that the North imports a hundred and fifty millions of dollars' worth of articles every year, which its own soil and labor can produce. Who is going to stop this, North or South? The South talk of introducing manufactories. Even creative power can not establish manufactories where they are not drawn by the laws of profit and loss.

Skilled labor requires intelligence, and intelligence has opinions. How is skillful industry to grow up in a country where opinions are held to be dangerous to the social relation, and are incompatible with personal safety? It would be like introducing Christianity among a people who regard baked missionary as one of the necessaries of life. To educate labor in the South, would be as safe as to run a locomotive into a powder magazine.

But it is unnecessary to take these considerations into the account. Things are as they are, because the laws of trade have so settled them. So, also, in regard to produce which does not require skilled labor. Does any-body suppose that a Mississippi planter buys Cincinnati pork for his negroes, instead of raising it, for love of the Union[?] Our merchants would call such a man a fool; yet our fancy political philosophers are accustomed to talk so. Suppose the Ohio River were the boundary between two nations, and even suppose the South should resolve to purchase no more Northern produce in any market where the star-spangled banner flies—that wonderful piece of bunting on which our trade is now supposed to hang. Would the price of a barrel of pork or flour vary one cent between Louisville and Evansville, or Cincinnati? Would not one market govern the other, and every sale, in either place, be so much reduction from the general stock? And generally the price at Liverpool, 3,000 miles off, would govern them all. So much for political boundaries governing markets.

Would it not be well to know something of the present dimensions of this Southern trade[?] It has been made such a night-mare of, in this city, that many well-meaning people believe it to be vital to our existence as a city. But outside of those articles of provisions which the South buys here because she must buy them in the North, the Southern trade is not more than one-fifth of the trade of Cincinnati. The trade of Southern Indiana is three times as great as that of the whole South. Yet our politicians never allude to the Indiana trade as worthy of notice. This Southern trade is not equally distributed among our manufactures, therefore a few kinds are much more interested in it than the rest.

Our trade has suffered some this winter on account of the crisis; therefore trifling politicians say the Union must be reconstructed at any cost, so as to restore our trade, even by exposing it to the same crisis periodically. But it is not because Southern trade has stopped; for exports to the South have fallen off but little, if any, in the aggregate. Secession is the occasion of our commercial difficulties; but the elements of which they are composed are no longer under the control of Secession, and are reacting in spite of it; and trade is improving. Secession stopped Southern payment of debts. That was a dead loss of a large amount to Cincinnati. But Secession can not do that again, for it also stopped their credit, and now they have to pay cash. The change to the Secession basis of trade necessarily causes some curtailment; but the trade is all the more healthy. Before, the Southern credit business was regarded as extra hazardous. Our merchants will be well satisfied with the change, and time will assuage the loss of the old score.

But the greatest loss inflicted on our people was by the collapse of our paper money. One hundred millions of dollars in the Northwest has been cut down ten per cent. on its value. That is our fault and our shame. If Secession will wipe the whole swindle out of existence, then posterity should buy up the bones of Yancey at $200,000, that being the assessed value of bones of the fathers of their country, in the Southern market, and should make pilgrimages to his tomb. We will even offer to go $50,000 better—to use a Southern commercial phrase—for a delivery so much greater. If relief from this ghastly swindle could be purchased by Secession, it would be dog cheap.

Secession is no more responsible for this than the Ohio Life and Trust Bank was for a similar collapse in 1857; and reconstruction of the Union is no more a cure, than the reconstruction of that bank would have been a cure for that crisis. Here is where our people may find the seat of their difficulties and losses. Our currency might and should be such that even the day of judgment could not disturb it. But a fool, like Keitt, may kick the currency of this great country into convulsions. Until our workingmen sweep this swindle, which speculates upon their bones and sinews, from our Legislature, it is a ghastly joke for them to talk of capacity for self-government.

From this grew most of the other evils. Great commercial relations suddenly found the currency dropped from under them. The currency-panic curtailed at once the enterprises that depend on credit. The change, North and South, from a credit and spurious currency to a cash basis, caused a temporary curtailment, until cash could overtake the usual credit time. A large portion of the Western banks seceded from redemption, leaving the people to suffer the depreciation on their notes. While we give Secession its due in the South, let us remember that it is honorable and noble, compared with the meanness and robbery of this Bank Secession. Southern Secession is not responsible for this Bank swindle. The Banks have only made Secession the occasion, just as Southern traders have made it the occasion, to repudiate their debts.

The causes and elements of our commercial disturbance are now beyond the reach of Secession. Trade is reviving in spite of it; and if the two sections are not forced into a war, the Spring will find all branches of industry revived and prosperous, subject to such a diminution of the Southern trade as was inevitable from the short crop of cotton. What our city wants is peace—a permanent peace. We do not want to have all our losses go merely to heal up the sectional hostility on paper, while it is preserved in the hearts of the people of the South to break out again on the first occasion. Industry is king. The history of the world shows that skilled industry has always made agricultural people tributary to it. Cincinnati has the skilled industry. All she needs is that it shall be relieved from political elements and sectional fanaticism, and from its unnatural connection with sentiments, opinions and religions. That can only be done by a peaceful separation, which will annihilate at once all the questions on which sectional hostility has grown up, and will leave the laws of trade and of mutual interest to have free course and be glorified.