The Free Navigation of the Mississippi
Milwaukee Daily Sentinel, March 4, 1861
The States of Mississippi and Louisiana, and the Montgomery Convention, have deemed it worth while to assure the commercial world that they guarantee the freedom of the Mississippi, "in times of peace." This reservation implies a right of the rebel Confederacy over that river—an assumption as unfounded as it is impudent, and one which will not be conceded for a moment, either by the General Government, or by any one of the half dozen States directly interested in its uninterrupted navigation.
But even since the promulgation of this guarantee, with a reservation, Louisiana has declared her purpose to ignore it. She assumes the right to exact tribute from all comers, and has given public notice that, after the 4th of March, no goods shall pass over the waters of the Mississippi, through her territory, without the payment of such duties as she, in her generosity, may levy.
This is more than an act of war against the Government of the United States. It is a blow struck at every State and Territory bordering on that river and its tributaries. Even should the General Government submit to this indignity, the millions of People to be directly affected by it, will not. Upon the free navigation of the Mississippi depends every material interest of those States and Territories. This great outlet closed, or its use made dependent upon the caprices and whims of a single State, that portion of the Northwest which has no other available outlet to the Atlantic border, sinks at once into the humiliating attitude of an isolated Province.
It would be an insult to the States directly interested in this question to suppose that they would, for a moment, submit to such an act of piratical usurpation. It would bring clown upon the usurping State an avalanche of armed men, who would promptly compel, at no matter what cost, the re-opening of this great National highway.
And this question Louisiana seems determined shall be tried. Better that she herself were cast into the midst of the sea, than that she should persist in what must lead to such fearful results.