Circleville Watchman, November 23, 1860

This country is just now agitated from center to circumference on the subject o£ secession—the right of one or more of the States peaceably to withdraw from the federal Union. The press and the politicians are discussing the merits of the question, generally confining it, however, to the constitutional and legal points involved therein. The conservative portion of the Republican leaders generally assume the position that no State has a right to withdraw, while the more radical portion of that party do not affirm or deny the right of peaceable secession, but are willing—indeed some of them are anxious—that the South shall secede from the Union, leaving the North in full possession and control of the present federal government, including the army and navy, the revenues of the country, and also, we presume, the national debt. Such we understand to be the position of the New York TRIBUNE, the leading and most influential paper of the Republican party. The ultra abolition portion of that party go still further, and insist that the South shall not only be permitted to secede, but that she shall be expelled from the Union.—This latter class is made up of the disunionists of the North, the bigoted and fanatical portion of the Republican party—the negro-thieving, higher-law portion, which is the control[l]ing wing of that party in all the New England States.

Many Democrats, both North and South, especially those who pretend to venerate the principles and policy of ANDREW JACKSON; and to follow in his footsteps also deny the right of a single State to withdraw from the Union and declare herself an independent Sovereignty, at least without the consent of the balance of the States. Many we opine arrive at this conclusion, through their love and veneration for the Union and the constitution, and the recollection of the manifold blessings which all of us have enjoyed in the Union as it is. To this class of our party we accord due mede of praise, for they are true patriots and trusty friends of their country and of mankind, and the rights and interests of the people, and the equal rights of the States, would be safe in their hands. But still we think they do not consider the whole question in that broad and comprehensive sense which true Democracy would prompt. As to the legal points involved in the question of secession, we shall not now attempt a discussion of them. But we are quite free to say that, our ideas of true Democracy, of the natural and inalienable rights of man, lead us to the opinion that any State of the confederation has, or at least ought to have, a perfect and undoubted right to withdraw from the Union and to change her form of government whenever a majority of her people shall be of opinion that their rights are being enchroached upon and impaired by the other States. The Constitution of the United States declares in plain and emphatic language the objects which the people had in view in the adoption of that instrument. Those objects were "to form a more PERFECT UNION, establish JUSTICE, insure DOMESTIC TRANQUIL[L]ITY, provide for the COMMON DEFENSE, promote the GENERAL WELFARE, and secure the BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY." Worthy and glorious objects, and beautifully expressed. But we hold that whenever the acts of the people of one portion or section of the Union are such as to be destructive of those worthy objects, and to disregard and encroach upon the constitutional rights of the people of the other section, it is the privilege of those whose rights are impaired to withdraw and absolve their political union with their imposters. We believe, too, that the people of each sovereign State are capable of being their own judges, as to when and how their rights may be violated and trampled upon. In short, we believe the right of secession to be one of the "reserved rights" of the States. If it were not so, our government would not be deserving of the name of Republic—it would be a despotism—as tyrannical as any political confederation of States in despotic Europe.

But while we thus concede the right of secession to both the North and the South, and also acknowledge that the constitutional and personal rights of the latter have been shamefully and ruthlessly violated by the former, we are not willing to admit that the present is a proper time to exercise that right by seceding from the Union. The South should take into consideration the fact that, notwithstanding the recent triumph of the sectional Republican party of the North in the election of a President, that party is in the minority and powerless in both branches of the legislative department of the government. It will only have the power to appropriate and distribute the spoils of office. It will be compelled to bear great responsibilities without the power to do much evil or even to do itself justice; and it will be within the power of the opponents of that party to increase and multiply those responsibilities.—Whenever the President shall fail to discharge his duties in accordance with the Constitution, and to enforce the laws of Congress, it will be within the power of a Democratic Senate to arraign him before that body upon charges of impeachment. Those Southern Senators who talk about resigning their places in the Senate while that body is composed of a majority of Democrats, act an extremely foolish and inconsiderate part. They should esteem it an important part of their duty to remain there, and see that the laws are executed.

There are many other reasons which might be urged against the policy of secession at this time. They are too numerous to specify. Amongst those reasons we believe we may properly urge that the race of fanaticism is nearly run out in the North—the people are alarmed and many already seem to be returning to their sober senses. At any rate, the people of the South may be assured that the Democracy of the North—that Democracy which has ever defended and maintained the equal rights of all the States, and which can poll one million and a quarter of votes—will continue to defend and support the constitution and the Union as they are, and will battle for the old and time-honored principles of the party, the perfect equality of the States, and that the people of each State and of each Territory shall be permitted to govern themselves—that is, to regulate their own domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the constitution of the United States.