The Union--Its Danger--How Shall It Be Preserved?

Concord Democratic Standard, November 24, 1860

Whatever some men may talk, or whatever they may pretend to believe, no one can shut his eyes to the fact, that the great American Union, at this moment, is in imminent danger of dissolution. South Carolina has already taken incipient steps to that end, and Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Florida are following fast in the same direction. The people of the other slaveholding States sympathize with the States already moving towards the catastrophe of disunion, and although, perhaps, now reluctant to take the decisive step, they will, in all probability, be ultimately drawn into the movement. Now this is the real, serious, and appalling fact which the people of the North as well as of the South are compelled to recognize and contemplate. Men may talk doubtingly; those, in some measure, responsible for the great evil that impends over us, may talk sneeringly; but no intelligent man can deny that now there is danger of the disruption of this mighty Confederacy of sovereign States—the pride and the hope of mankind.

What has brought this appalling danger upon our country? It requires no prophet nor philosopher to tell. The school-boy of ordinary intelligence knows the cause, and can give the reply. It is the war which has been waged by the fanatics and demagogues of the North upon the domestic institutions of the South, culminating at last in the election of a President upon the avowed principle of hostility to the South. It is the fruits of the crusade of Northern Abolitionism against Southern Slavery, carried on in violation of both the letter and spirit of the Constitutional compact under which both sections have agreed to live: That war has been waged in all forms insulting to the South, and subversive of her rights;—by gross misrepresentation; by insulting invective; by invasions of her rights of property; by a violation of the express provisions of the Constitution in the form of State nullification of the Fugitive Slave Law; by refusing to the South an equal enjoyment of the common domain of the Republic; by actual invasion of the territory of a sovereign State and the murder of its citizens. Of all this has the North been guilty. Without any right so to do, the people of the North, now constituting an actual majority, speaking through the fanatical priest and the political demagogue, have proclaimed their determination to extirpate, ultimately, an institution of the South—her system of organized labor, on which her prosperity depends—and, of course, to change her social system and her present form of civilization,—to effect, indeed, in her institutions a more radical change than was effected between these States and the mother country by the American Revolution. In this war, the people of the North have been the aggressors, and at this very moment Massachusetts, Vermont, New-Hampshire, and every northern State which has nullified the Fugitive Slave Law, are more out of the Union than South Carolina. So far South Carolina has merely talked and passed resolutions, while the States already referred to have actually nullified and infracted the Constitution.

These are the causes of the crisis that has come upon us. Now what is the remedy? Within a few days we have heard that remedy suggested by the authors of the evil, which they think will be adequate, sufficient, and the rightful remedy. The thoughtless and guilty Black Republican imagines that coercion is the true remedy. Nothing but war and bloodshed suggests themselves to the brood of unthinking religious and political fanatics whose heedless and reckless conduct has brought this impending calamity upon their country. Send down an army and fight the South back into subjection. That is the remedy which they would apply to the portentous and appalling evil which they have brought upon their country.

Have they yet asked themselves, who are to do this fighting? Who are to make this conquest of our brethren of the South? Will they do it? Will the democrats of the North aid them? No, we tell them they will not. If they have courage to undertake the task, they will have to undertake it alone, and when they march down to subdue the South, they will have a fire in the rear which will not add either to the pleasure or the success of their enterprise. If fighting is to be done in this miserable business, we shall all learn from sad experience that it will be done in the North as well as the South. Civil war, if once begun, will overspread the whole country, with its carnage, its conflagrations, its frightful desolation.

No; war and fighting are not the remedies for the evil that is upon us. JUSTICE is the remedy. Concession of the just rights of our Southern brethren is the remedy, and none other will answer. And to that conclusion must the triumphant northern majority come, or disunion is inevitable. It is idle to expect that the people of the South will surrender their just rights which the Constitution secures to them. It is idle to expect that they can be persuaded from the experiment of disunion by any other course than by yielding their just claims under the common compact of union, and by permitting them to enjoy their institutions and their forms of society in peace and tranquillity. If the alternative of submission and degradation, or secession, is forced upon the South, it is idle to expect that she will hesitate at the choice of secession, however great may be its inconveniences, its perils, and its sacrifices. When driven to the point of election between honor and dishonor, between existence and destruction, the instinct of honor and self-preservation prompts both men and nations to dare every danger, and to submit to every privation and sacrifice. And when the people of the South shall have been pushed to the conclusion, that they have no remedy against the insults and aggressions of the fanatics and political demagogues of the North save secession and disunion, their assailants will find that the South will dare the perils of disunion however threatening and formidable their aspect.

In conclusion, we repeat, that the time has come when the conduct of the North, with respect to the institutions of the South, has got to be changed, totally and radically. The North must now cease her warfare upon the institutions of the South; acknowledge the equality of the South under our common constitution; acknowledge her claim to the equal protection of her property, of whatever nature it may be, in the common domain of the Union; recognize her constitution of society and her forms of civilization, whatever they may be, and respect them; or prepare for a disruption of the Republic. FORBEARANCE and JUSTICE alone can preserve the Union; not force and coercion.