The Abolition of Slavery the Only End of This War

Madison Daily Argus and Democrat, May 4, 1861

Till secession had become an actual fact—till the conspiracies of thirty years had ripened into actual rebellion, and treason to the government was organized and armed—there was no party at the north that sought or desired to weaken the Constitutional guarantees that protected slavery. On the contrary, all parties recognized its legal existence, and respected the established measures for its protection. A large party at the north were favorable to even extending and fortifying such measures of safety as those directly interested in the institution deemed necessary for its perpetuity. All their demands have been complied with. Measure after measure of rigorous and obnoxious legislation had been proposed, agitated, adopted and finally acquiesced in by a great majority of the North. And we can hardly doubt—if peace had continued, if Lincoln's election had been recognized at the south, and his administration had only met with the political opposition that its predecessors had met—his party would have been defeated at the next general election, and, in time, the last demands of slavery would have been conceded—protection in the territories and the right of transit through the states would at some time have been granted, and though imperfectly observed at first, as the fugitive slave law was, would become to be recognized at length as the settled policy of the nation. We regard this as probable, judging from the former course of the North on the subject, and by the fact that the great controlling commercial interests were leagued with the south, and a united south would always have a great party at the North, as they always before had to aid and sympathize with them. In this party, among others, we had acted; we have advised concession after concession; and though we never advocated granting their last demand, we are of opinion that by some speedy revolution in politics it would have been successful.

But with all the nourishing care of Government; with such special legislation as no government ever before yielded to any interest, slavery was constantly losing in the rivalry with free labor; the disproportion was vastly increasing with each decade; the importance of the south was dwindling, and the great southern states were falling from the first and second rank to the fifth and seventh. Northern enterprise was fast outstripping them in the race for power, and the increase of northern population was fast reducing the southern minority. No factitious aid, and no increase of privileges and protection could change this sure and rapid progress of events.

This was foreseen in 1830 by the only really great statesman whose entire abilities and statesmanship were ever devoted to protecting the interests and existence of slavery. He saw that in the Union his great labors would be fruitless; and then CALHOUN planted the seeds of disunion.—He carefully nurtured their slow and painful growth, and taught his followers the process by which they were to be brought to maturity. Long opposed and discouraged by the patriots of the country, often subdued and conquered, they were still nourished faithfully in secret, and found many congenial soils. Secret conspiracy, the arts of demagogues, the labors of men high in power, and constant efforts to excite the Southern mind were the means by which in our day the heresies of secession have taken possession of so many States; they have revolted and taken up arms against the government. The cause of the rebellion is that the South has become satisfied of its hopeless and constantly growing inferiority to the North.

With the first gun from the rebels in arms perished every sympathy at the North with slavery. Never more, if peace were concluded tomorrow would slavery be granted another guarantee. On the contrary—those which it has possessed no longer exist; by the acts of the South itself they have been forfeited. The war cannot now end but with the total extinction of slavery, which was the cause of the war; for this is the first and must be the last armed contest between the two sections of this Union. All cause for future quarrels, except the peaceful controversies of political parties, must now be abolished. And though it require a war of ten years, the sacrifice of a million lives and the entire devastation of every foot of slave territory, this result, and nothing that is less, must be the end. The North has the power to achieve it; and the conviction is universal that peace short of that would be an unsafe and delusive peace; that our children would be compelled to fight over the same battle; and the same battle will have to be fought over again as often as it is concluded by a less decisive event. CALHOUN no doubt hoped and expected that the course of events would render disunion a desirable and peaceful solution of difficulty, but the fourth rate statesmen into whose care his vast designs were consigned have blundered into the war; and the institution for which he hoped disunion was to secure perpetuity, is by their efforts and measures of disunion doomed to extinguishment in blood.