"Men Change--Principles Never"
Columbus Daily Capital City Fact, February 9, 1861
If the principle on which our Government is founded be not incorrect, it should be carried out at all hazards. There is and can be but one RIGHT in the premises—all else is wrong. It is not maintained by others than reckless men that States in open rebellion should be coerced into measures which are averse to their feelings and their sense of justice. But the fact should not be lost sight of, that the United States Government still exists, notwithstanding a portion of it has rebelled, seceded, or by popular consent dissolved its governmental connection with the parent Confederacy. Such being the case, it is the duty of those having the power to see that all laws enacted for the protection and regulation of the Government be promptly enforced. The conciliatory spirit in which the refractory section has been indulged in her wild and reckless degeneracy and treachery, has been that dictated by reason and sound judgment, and its propriety is acknowledged by all sound-thinking and well-meaning men. It is not to be supposed, however, that calm and righteous conciliation and forbearance are to be taken as inactive submission in all regards to the whims and caprices of the turbulent disorganizers. On this question there is no great diversity of opinion among the intelligent Northern people. When the point is attained at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue, it is found that many who would fain have smothered their indignation for the sake of peaceable adjustment, are constrained to cast off the conciliatory mask and appear in a bold front of determined resolve that the Constitution and the laws shall be maintained.
"Men change," for deceitfulness is a component part of human nature, and, to a limited extent, a virtue. Forbearance is nothing but a commendable exemplification of deceit, but it has its extent, and must end when driven to the wall, for then the first law of nature, self-preservation, assumes its prerogative. Here we find principle, which never changes. It speaks, and there is no appeal, except to arms. It is a principle of the United States that they will protect their citizens, their flag, their commerce, and their honor.
In the House of Representatives on Tuesday last, Mr. SICKLES, of New York, made a speech in which he expressed conclusions upon the subject of secession, to which men of all parties in the North are rapidly coming. He said that the secession movement was at first peaceable, and that he was then disposed to let the disaffected States go; but within the last month it had become violent and aggressive, had led to the seizure of United States forts and vessels, to the firing on the United States flag, and to the plunder of the United States Mint and Treasuries, and had consequently lost his sympathies and that of his associates. In concluding his remarks, Mr. SICKLES said: "Armies are raised under the guns of forts belonging to the United States, the jurisdiction of which has been ceded to us by the solemn acts of the seceding States. Measures of open war yielded to Mexican spoliations, and I say, in the presence of this new and last phase of the secession movement, that it can have no friends in the North, but there will soon be no exception to the general denunciation which it must meet with from the loyal and patriotic citizens of this country."
Mr. SICKLES took the position, on the question of coercion, which is taken by the Constitution and the laws of the land, that it is needless and impolitic to invade or injure the seceding States, but that the United States must hold and defend the forts, arsenals, navy yards and territories over which they have jurisdiction, and must enforce the collection of revenues. If the seceding States tamper with the mails, postal communication must be cut off. These measures will be amply sufficient to maintain the authority of the Union unimpaired and its empire unbroken. No suffering or bloodshed need result from them, or will result, except by the act of the States in rebellion. It is no particular respect we entertain for DANIEL E. SICKLES that prompts us in giving prominence to his remarks, but a high regard we have for patriotic principle whencesoever emanating.
We would rejoice at the consummation of any honorable compromise by which the recreant States could be reclaimed to loyalty; but we protest against the Government much further humbling itself through pacific dread of consequences. South Carolina was long since spoiled by the attention paid her; by the forbearance with which she has been treated in all her periodic tantrums and spiteful ways. She is a black sheep, and has spotted the whole cotton flock. Her sister conspirators are no less determined in their treason than she. Let them go, if they will, where they will. But let us protect our flag, our commerce and our honor, though the heavens fall. It is time to dismiss the delusion that the recreant States are essential to our prosperity. Facts and figures teach the contrary—they are a burden upon us, and always have been. It is more through compassion than otherwise that we would retain and protect them—more for ornament than utility that we covet their association. If they are determined to venture the experiment of a separate confederacy, and we believe they are, let us assist them rather than throw stumbling-blocks in the way of their egress and settlement. But while discharging those acts of kindness to the disaffected of the household, we should and must be mindful of our own honor and our own good name in the eyes of the civilized world, which are upon us in steady, jealous gaze.