Disunion Is Death to Slavery

Des Moines Iowa State Register, January 23, 1861

Dispatches from the South bring us the intelligence that the States which consider themselves outside of Federal authority, number four. The revolution, inaugurated by the frenzied traitors of South Carolina, has been communicated to the Gulf States; and Mississippi, Alabama and Florida have declared themselves beyond the limits of the Federal Union. The specious reason, assigned in the secession ordinances, for the treasonable course pursued by certain States, is that the Constitutional rights of the South have been invaded by the election of an antislavery President. This is the specious reason; the true reason is found in the circumstance that the extreme States of the South, to whom the conservation of slavery is preferred to the blessings of Union, have, for many years, meditated the establishment of a slave-holding empire on the ruins of the present government. Dissolution was menaced long before Abraham Lincoln was thought of for the Presidency. To Toombs, Iverson, Rhett & Co., the reflection has been sweet that, among the contingencies of the future, a formidable empire might be organized whose central ideas would be the original righteousness of slavery, the re-opening of the African slave trade, and the unlimited expansion of the institution.

But will secession, or a dissolution of the Union, subserve the grand purpose of these traitors? Suppose that revolution has accomplished its work—suppose that this grand confederacy of ours has gone down to the grave of nations—suppose that a slave-holding Empire or Republic has been created by the confederated Gulf States,—will these events contribute to the permanency and expansion of slavery? To our mind, a dissolution of the Union will more certainly "place slavery in a course of ultimate extinction" than any other experiment that could be devised. A nation whose central ideas are confined to slavery, and whose very commerce is made up of an abhorrent traffic in the "souls and bodies of men," will meet with neither sympathy nor encouragement from the civilized world. A nation like this will not be permitted to outrage the moral sense of Christendom. At the threshold of its existence, as a slave-trading confederacy, it will meet with determined hostility from every enlightened Republic and Monarchy in the world, and with such formidable opposition, moving directly against it from every quarter of the globe, it is not likely that its efforts to make piracy legitimate and man-stealing a virtue, will meet with any thing like marvellous success. It is too late in the history of the world for any profitable investments to be made by nations in the Slave trade.

In the Union, the Southern States are comparatively secure against any disastrous insurrections among slaves. In exigencies of this character, the General government is committed to the preservation of the public peace; and the United States troops, and the militia even of the Free States, would be constrained to march to the assistance of our Southern neighbors at the bidding of the proper authorities. Outside of the Union, no such assistance would be rendered. The new confederacy, encumbered with all the embarrassments incident to new governments, would be compelled to fight its own battles. It would be thrown on its own feeble resources in every emergency; and would be liable at any moment to be invaded and destroyed by servile and hereditary foes.

The most effectual way to bring about the enfranchisement of every slave on this continent, is to dissolve this Union. Slavery outflowing from a Southern nation, and seeking to diffuse itself over the Territories, will be repulsed on every hand. The formidable confederacy of the North which would spring up, full armed, from the ruins of the present Republic, would have much to say and more to do in moulding the character of infant Territories. The North—now loyal and true to the Union, and devoted to the Federal Constitution—is willing to allow to slavery all the protection that the Constitution even by implication requires; but when the severance comes—if come it must—the States of the North that have submitted for the sake of Union to requirements which bound the consciences of their people, will take hold of the moral bearings of the great question, and they will see to it, that the curse of human bondage shall not pass beyond its present limits. They will be more jealously watchful than now of the encroachments of the Slave Power. They will show their fealty to the cause of freedom and their respect for the enlightened convictions of Christendom, by arresting the expansion of slavery, and by stopping the piratical commerce in the bones and muscles of men. The "irrepressible conflict" will not be disturbed by the destruction of the Union; but it will gather fierceness and energy, and will continue until the last chain forged for the enslavement of men on this continent, will fall from the limbs of the bondman.

It is obvious then to every man who is neither a fool nor a fanatic, that the secessionists are as surely working for the extinction of slavery, as they are for the dismemberment of the Government. While they seem to know it not, they are doing infinitely more to liberate their slaves, than all the abolitionists of the country; and it is very possible that God Almighty has stricken them with judicial blindness, that, in their hot zeal for the dominance of slavery, and in their fierce lust for the wages of unhallowed ambition, HIS own right arm might be bared in the liberation of every captive.