The Presidential Election--Its Probable Result--Its Moral Influence
Daily South Carolinian, August 3, 1860
The result of the Presidential struggle is no longer one of much doubt or uncertainty. Take State by State, and make whatever calculations we may, based upon the relative strength of parties, as indicated by recent elections, and as they will probably vote, owing to existing divisions, and we can arrive at no other conclusion than that Lincoln is to be the next President of the United States, if the Southern States permit it. For years the agitation of this slavery question has been conducted with spirit and energy by Northern politicians. They have enlisted in their behalf the sympathy and aid of a portion of the Northern pulpit; they have leagued and allied with those who have sought to foster hot-house interests by pecuniary aid abstracted from duties on a foreign commerce created and sustained by the great agricultural interests of the country; they have received in their motley and hungry ranks the political refugees of all the other parties; and now, with ranks swollen to proportions sufficient to achieve victory, they are ready to seize upon the Government. What is their first and strongest idea, that which has brought to them three-fourths of their strength? It is the idea of Abolitionism; it is the idea which furnishes the actors for every manifestation of hostility to the rights and institutions of the South; it is at the bottom of every raid upon the South; it incites to the murder of her citizens, whether at home, amid the quiet of domestic life, or in neighboring States demanding the restoration of property stolen away by those who covenanted to respect it and to restore it; it is the idea which furnishes an insult for every column of the Congressional Globe; it is an idea that is restless and active; that has a reality in view, and is working night and day for its accomplishment. We must weigh the consequences of this party's success not by the words of their leaders. They would blind us from a perception of their aim by all manner of soothing terms. We may actually believe them when they protest that they themselves intend no open and direct hostility to the South; we may concede to them all this, and yet it should not lull the South into repose, or cause her to dismiss a single apprehension. The same hand that plants the seed does not always reap the harvest; the same hand that fashions the dagger does not always use it. But if, through the instrumentality of this party, ideas be disseminated in the Northern mind, and if these Bowers of the seeds, whose fruits are well known, meet with Northern support, why need the South wait to ascertain that the harvesters will be approved? There never was a revolution that was not preceded by the disseminators of the ideas of which it was but a logical result. And if we see the Northern mind receiving with approval the ideas of hostility everywhere promulgated by the Republican leaders, we may rest assured that if they be not resisted now, they will present themselves to the South, not as abstract ideas, resting but lightly upon the surface of the Northern mind, but as ideas fully developed and fully matured; ideas deeply rooted and deeply imbedded; ideas active and bristling with terrible designs and as ready for bloody and forcible realities as ever characterized the ideas of the French revolution. We have already had some of the forward offshoots of this growing crop, and if we await until their full maturity, their resistance will be a still more difficult problem for Southern solution. If, then, this party succeeds, and succeeds upon such ideas as these, can any one calculate its moral influence upon the enemies of the South at the North, and its disastrous influence upon the spirit of the South? These ideas have been gradually developing themselves, notwithstanding the opposition of a strong party at the North and against the influences and patronage of the Federal Government. When this party of patriots is destroyed, and when the power of the Government shall be cast against us; when the President shall promulgate these ideas from the Federal Capital, and proscribe every man who dares to raise his voice in favor of the constitutional rights of the South and for the equality of the States of the Union; when every voice raised for Southern defense shall be hissed at as the voice of a traitor and factionist, and frowned upon by the ruling powers of a Government for which the South is called upon to shed her blood and to expend her wealth when its honor is to be vindicated or safety preserved; when the Senate and the House shall swarm with Sumners and Lovejoys, who study their language that they may excel in abusive epithets—can the South, then, in the Union, hope for safety? Can she hope for peace? We have hoped with those who have indulged hope most pertinaciously. We have watched, admired and applauded the gallant battles which Northern men have made for the constitutional rights of the South. We have seen our friends successful here and there, but the triumph was always short. While we have sometimes seen our friends successful—we have yet to see the first instance of any Senator or Representative who became conspicuous in abusing the South, that was not returned by his constituents. Is this fact not instructive? It will be so with this Presidential election. Let the South submit to it, and her very remonstrances will be construed then, as they are now, and as they were during our colonial existence, into threats intended to intimidate the North, and every appeal to a Northern sense of justice will be drowned by counterappeals to Northern courage and stubbornness; and these very remonstrances will only be made use of to array against us a still stronger hostile public sentiment. The instances are few where the minority's remonstrances have not been construed into arrogance and factiousness, and even in its powerless condition been accused of imperiousness and insolence, that greater burdens might be heaped upon it. Senator Seward in his last speech said to the North, "The elections have demonstrated that you have the power to elect your President and take control of the Government—it now remains," says he, "to be decided if you have the firmness to use it." Under such appeals, the North will not have the courage to disengage itself from the shackles with which this Republican party has bound it, and is hurrying it onto the consummation of its designs. Even now, if we remain silent, some Northern Representative rises and offers an insult, hoping and knowing that some Southern Representative will repel it, and furnish by his reply, based upon the patriotic sentiment of loyalty to the constitutional rights of his section, capital with which to inflame the Northern mind. Even now, the surest tenure a Northern man can hold upon a seat in the Federal Legislature, is that which he obtains through active discharge of the office of Southern crimination. Until now, the seats of Senators and Representatives from the Northern States have become so many pieces in a grand battery, from which malignant denunciation is heaped upon the South. The same causes will operate a like result in the administrative department. The surest tenure upon it which any Republican occupant could have, would be derived from the institution of measures of hostility to the South. Then when the South remonstrated, the popular sentiment of the North would be appealed to, to sustain a President whom the South was trying to bully and force into terms. And as this party has advanced from one idea of hostility to another; from the same causes, when in power, it will advance from one act of hostility to another, in each advancement sustaining itself by an appeal to Northern support to protect it from Southern imperiousness, until the ruin of the South will have been accomplished. Then, as now, we shall have a party in the South proclaiming that those who remonstrate are responsible for all the troubles. It is not simply opposition to the Democratic party that has rallied such a formidable support to the Republican nominees—it is hostility to the South. If it were hostility to the Democratic party and not to the South, why are Bell and Everett, and Douglas and Johnson, received with so little favor that they cannot now claim one single Northern State? If the object of the North was simply, as some say, to take the Government out of Democratic hands, why are these two tickets received with so little Northern favor? No, the ticket that alone commends itself to the North, and that will probably receive its almost united electoral votes, is that which is not only hostile to the Democracy but to the South. And these middle ground tickets, now supported by so many Southern men, without any prospect of success, seem to be pushed forward with the poor prospect that they will paralyze the only party that has boldly met this hostile organization, and by dividing the South, demoralize her in her efforts to defend herself in the Union, and, by demoralizing her, strengthen her enemies, and force upon her the alternative of disunion or a submission in which each year she will be summoned to a lower abasement of her pride and manhood. Of the alternatives, we cannot but believe that the South should choose disunion. We do not lightly esteem the benefits of the Union or the evils of disunion. We are ready to weigh heavily the consequences of national rivalry, jealousy and distrust. France and England illustrate it. We would still choose disunion, believing that these causes will entail expensive Governments, standing armies and large navies upon each section, to protect their frontiers and their commerce, but we would choose it, believing that all of these evils are preferable to the inferiority to which Republican rule would sink the South. We advocate resistance, not because we see such a bright future in disunion, but because we see such abasement in a Union so administered.