Florence Gazette, November 28, 1860
No man who has intelligently reflected on the political condition of the country, says the Mobile Register, especially as developed in the Presidential canvass just closed, can resist the conclusion that the incompatibility of interests and views between the slaveholding and the non slaveholding States, or to adopt the phrase of the master spirit of abolitionism, the "irrepressible conflict," has at last come to a crisis which leaves but little, if any, hope to those who look upon this Federal Union as the master piece of human wisdom in the science of Government. Patriotic men have labored sedulously to devise some expedient by which a common government could still be made to work equitably for both sections; they have imagined that the principal subject of difference might be removed from the National Legislature and Administration wholly and forever, and the action of both strictly confined to matters on which the differences were not vital and irremediable; the result of the last Presidential election has demonstrated their error. Both the north and the south have cast an overwhelming vote for their respective sectional candidates, and the contest thus being purely sectional, the north as numerically the stronger section has gained the victory. The election of a President, of any party, is in itself a matter of but temporary importance, and affords, as we have often said, no valid ground for the dissolution of the Government; but the fact once clearly established, that henceforth and forever the north and the south would be arrayed as hostile sections in a contest which could end only by the subjugation of one or the other, and in which the weaker would rapidly become still weaker and the stronger gain strength—this fact once clearly established, as it has been by the last Presidential election, proves that the Union between those two sections has practically ceased to exist, and that its mere forms are but as the chain binding together deadly enemies sharing a common doom. "We should exhaust the last efforts at conciliation," those who have been taught to make reference for this Union almost a religion, will tell us.—True, and so we should. National dignity, and regard to the opinions of mankind, demand that the people of the South should do so while and before they take their station among the nations of the earth; but we should lack in candor to our readers were we to express any other conviction than that these efforts will be fruitless. Henceforth, then, the conservative feeling of peace-loving men must be directed less to the preservation of the Union, than to warding off the shock attendant upon its dissolution—to build up a new house while the one is being pulled down, so that we may not be shelterless even for a short space of time; or to use the same simile, to so pull down the house as not to be buried in its ruins. There are two ways in which we may proceed, and between them we honestly believe lies the only choice. One a mere hurrah movement, in which all the evils of revolution will be let loose, and the demons of anarchy will riot at will; in which frenzied appeals will take the place of reason, demagogues usurp the seats of statesmanship, and secret leagues supersede constituted authority. The political fruits of such a revolution can be but fragmentary and incessantly changing combinations, amid which we should exhibit to the world the sad spectacle of the South American republics; its bearings upon individual and public prosperity need not be pointed out. The other way is to imitate the course of our forefathers, to proceed calmly, deliberately, coolly, yet with a fixed object ever sternly in view, laying one stone for every one pulled down, so that we have at least a firm foundation laid for a new edifice ere the old one is razed to the ground. By such a course the worst evils attending so important a change will be essentially lessened, perhaps wholly removed, and the transition effected without vital injury to any of our important interests. Whether it shall be the one or the other depends on the conservative men of the country. Other choice, we repeat, they have none. Inaction, or a stubborn refusal to recognize the duties of present, and blind devotion to a past which has ceased to be more than a historical idea, will inevitably give the control of the movement to those least able to make it end in good.
In the language of Governor Moore, in his admirable letter on this subject, the Convention, acting under such solemn responsibilities, is not the place "for either the timid or the rash. It should be composed of men of wisdom and experience—men who have the capacity to determine what the honor of the State and the security of her people demand; and patriotism and moral courage sufficient to carry out their honest judgments." To avoid either timidity or rashness in the steps which we take as an independent and sovereign people, every true Southern man should use his private and public influence. Co-operation with the other slaveholding States, at least the cotton States, is a vital necessity, but to insist on such co-operation as a sine qua non is unionism under a thin disguise, because every State making such a cooperation the condition of its own action, no decisive step could be taken by any of them. On the other hand, it is equally necessary to avoid rash and precipitate action, and therefore while the State should assume a decisive and determined attitude, so grave a step as isolated separation from the Union should not be taken with all the consequences it may involve, without a direct and final reference to the people who have to bear these consequences. Actuated by the desire to avoid either danger, insufficient action on the one hand and hot haste precipitation on the other, we have after anxious and mature consultation with former party friends as well as former party opponents, including prominent supporters of Mr. Breckinridge, determined to [recommend to] the people of Mobile the following propositions, embodying the views not only of those who acted with us in the last Presidential contest, but of intelligent and patriotic men of all parties, and forming a basis for a course of action in which all true lovers of their country, irrespective of parties, may be able to cordially participate.
First, that in our opinion the people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, should declare and make known that the powers granted under the federal Constitution, being derived from the people of the United States, shall be resumed by them, the same having been perverted to our injury and oppression. And that Alabama shall declare herself a free and independent State, discharged of all connection with the federal government of these United States.
Second, that the people so in convention, after such declaration, shall make every effort to procure a union of Southern States, and to make such arrangements with the neighboring and other States as may secure to us our just share of the territory and property of the federal government, and with foreign nations for the acknowledgment and recognition of our independence by the nations of the earth.
Third, That in the event that the people of the State of Alabama, in Convention assembled, determine to withdraw in co-operation with other Southern States, that then the action of the Convention shall be first. But if the Convention should determine to withdraw separately and without co-operation with the other Southern States, that such action shall be referred to a vote of the people at the ballot box.