Something for All Patriots to Read and Ponder

Nashville Daily Patriot, September 19, 1860

If the eye of any one who loves party more than his country, or who believes that a separation of the Union on Mason and Dixon's line would promote the interests or well-being of the people of either section, should rest upon these lines, he had as well lay aside the paper. We are not addressing him just now. But we trust that all patriots of every name and party and station and section will read this article and ponder it well.

The Presidential campaign of 1860, is now more than half over. There are four candidates still in the field. Three of them stand in opposition to the fourth. That far, at least, they are united, conceding to each all that it claims for itself. That fourth one represents a party which stands out boldly before all mankind as a great sectional fact. Whatever may be thought of its principles—whether its doctrines are sound, or its aims wicked or charitable its existence is unquestionably a sectional fact. The universal Southern mind is in antagonism to the Republican party and its candidate. He cannot and will not receive support in any of the Southern States. That is settled beyond all question or controversy. The Union was not made on any sectional basis, nor can it be prolonged on such a basis. It was entered into upon the idea of a community of interests among all the States, each one malting some sacrifice of a minor interest to secure the incomparably greater one of Union. And that is the way in which it will have to be continued. No one State could have its exclusive way in the beginning, and no one section can have its exclusive way now. If such attempt is pushed to extremity, the Union must come to a speedy and disastrous termination. Though nothing in the past would justify separation—would justify the giving up of the Constitution and the Union which constitute our nationality, our glory and our power—yet there is a point in all public affairs which might render such a course not only justifiable, but necessary. The erroneous construction of the nature of our compact of Union has given rise to a brood of vagaries, asserting the right of peaceable secession, which are worse than nonsense. So long as the Federal Constitution exists and preserves its binding effect, we are one people—one confederation of States—united and inseparable. There is one way—and but one, true and logical—by which the obligations of that instrument, that ligature of Union, can be broken and destroyed, and that is by Revolution. The right of revolution—the ultima ratio gentium—nobody, at any time ever denied. It is a part of the history of all peoples—it never was denied, cannot be now and never will be. It is this autocratic idea that a portion of the united people having one set of interests or one set of opinions—whether practical or abstract—must have their own way to the exclusion of the other portion having a different set of interests or opinions, that breeds revolution—that justifies revolution—that makes revolution necessary. But only when pressed to extremity, and when every other mode of redress has failed. Then it becomes just in the sight of earth and Heaven. No diligent observer has failed to see that our Republic is now engaged in an alarmingly swift race for this revolutionary goal. Four years ago the Republican party came before the American people declaring that it would have its own way; and was defeated. To-day it rallies to the contest with the same determination, and with increased ardor and with its legions under better discipline. It may succeed. Let the true-hearted patriot pause and ponder that subjunctive proposition—it may succeed. Its leaders tell us they desire success that they may show the South—the anti-Republican States—that they mean no harm to them, but that all their intents are entirely charitable. That is an exhibition, however, for which the South has little or no desire. But we shall see.

Since 1856, there has a party sprung up in the South, the counterpart of the Republicans of the North. That was the natural and almost necessary product of this. The contact of 1856 was simply an act of procreation, and gestation has been regular, healthful and prompt. This Southern antagonistic party would fail of its mission—would be untrue to its paternity—if it did not also seek to have its own way. We shall not inquire in this place, whether we have transposed the real progenitor. It is enough for us to know that they occupy these relations and that they are marching respectively on their proper mission—that of ultimate revolution—and that unless they are checked such will be their goal. Does any intelligent citizen dispute this? If he does, we only ash him to read the speeches of the Republican champions, and then turn to those of the new Southern party, for which we have such a variety of names that we cannot be sure of the right one. The former tell us that if the latter triumph and continue to triumph, all the North will be overrun with slaves; while the latter tell us if the former succeed the South will be reduced to a state of vassalage, and that horrors will be enacted in comparison with which Milton's vision of hell is but a sorry piece of moonshine. What does this mean? What is the English of it, if it is not simply that the Northern and Southern States cannot live together in the same Union? It can signify nothing else; and that is but another expression for revolution; and that, too, not justifiable or necessary.

The great, overruling question for all those whom we are now addressing, the patriotic men of all parties, is therefore, whether this fatal and fearful result can be averted, and if so, how? By the side of it all others sink into insignificance. On one side of the balance is placed the Union, and on the other all minor questions of party and policy. Without the one the other would be nothing. The Union may exist without parties, but without the Union, there can be no parties. To hold party higher than the union is, therefore, preposterous. Our first duty, then, is to avert revolution by defeating these great sectional parties that are urging us to it. Such a defeat can only be accomplished by a union of all who desire a continuance of the Union on the basis of the constitution. If it is desirable to avert revolution, such a union is desirable. As an effective party organization the Republican is by far the stronger of the two sectional parties. The Southern extremists have not a shadow of ground to hope for an election before the people—but the Republicans have—not because of absolute numbers, but because of the divisions of their opponents. They do not hold a majority vote in the country, and cannot possibly elect by their own numbers. Their sole chance is in the divisions of those who are opposed to them. To show the truth of this assumption let us inspect the facts. The following was the vote of 1856.

Mr. Buchanan received .................... 1,838,169
Mr. Fremont .................... 1,341,264
Mr. Fillmore .................... 874,534

Thus in a total vote of 4,053,967, the Republicans polled less than one-third, leaving a clear majority against them of 1,371,439, or about two to one. Calculating the increase on the rate exhibited in the two last elections, the total vote the present year will be, in round numbers 5,150,000. There has nothing occurred since 1856 in the North to strengthen the Republican cause, but on the contrary developments have been made well calculated to weaken it. The ultra positions assumed by its most conspicuous leaders have tended to alienate the more conservative men of that section from their standard. Their only source of increased power is in the fact of the opposing have-your-own-way party in the South. And granting that this sectional antagonism has given them increased strength and compactness, and allowing them one-half the entire increase of the popular vote, which is quite as liberal as any of them will claim, their vote next November cannot exceed one million nine hundred thousand, scarcely two-fifths of the aggregate vote cast. We have taken some pains to estimate the probable vote at the approaching election, on the basis of that of 1856, in connection with subsequent developments, the division in the democratic ranks, and the present state of feeling throughout the country, and give the following, in round numbers, as the probable result:

Mr. Lincoln will receive ................... 1,900,000
Mr. Breckinridge ................... 850,000
Mr. Douglas ................... 1,000,000
Mr. Bell ................... 1,400,000
Total ................... 5,150,000

If our assumed increase on the aggregate popular vote of 1856, shall prove nearly correct, the actual result would not probably vary materially from these figures were the election to take place to-day. But it should be borne in mind that Mr. LINCOLN'S less than two-fifths might be so disposed in the States, as to carry a majority in the electoral colleges, and thus elect him, not by a majority, but by a minority. And hereupon arises the only possibility of his success. So far as Mr. BRECKINRIDGE and Mr. DOUGLAS are concerned, neither can hope for election—and while the former will obtain a less actual popular vote, he will receive a larger electoral vote. Mr. BELL's vote is the strongest of the three, and will continue to increase up till the election—but whether it shall be sufficient to elect him is certainly doubtful, if the friends of BRECKINRIDGE and DOUGLAS continue their mad warfare. But with a union of the true national, conservative sentiment on Mr. BELL his triumph would be placed beyond question, and both the sectional parties prostrated.

Can this be effected? The politicians have tried their hand upon it, and have failed. From them we can expect nothing further in that direction, and the matter is now wholly in the hands of the people. It is for them to do all that may be done for the safety of themselves and their country. If they will but rise to the importance of the great occasion, they can and will restore peace to a land distracted and endangered. It is to them we now appeal. Do they want revolution with its terrible consequences? Do they still prefer to cling to party names and party leaders while the Republic is imperiled? Will they close their eyes to the real dangers that encompass them and theirs, and still persist in aiding to bring on the catastrophe? They have followed the politicians until they have approached nearly the precipice, will they then leap into the vortex of revolution of their own will and heart? Or will they rather abandon their leaders for their own safety and the preservation of their country? That is the question, and the only significant question now to be decided; we ask them to take it and answer it as becomes intelligent, independent, patriotic freemen.

We have this to say, in conclusion: If the people shall neglect the high and solemn duty now imposed upon them; if they permit the machinations of the enemies of the Union to prevail by their divisions, on them be the responsibility. If they allow a minority to precipitate them into a revolution, unnecessary and unjustifiable, they will be held as criminals to history and posterity. We now denounce in advance all trouble, all strife, all revolution, all blood that may immediately issue out of the pending election as unnecessary, unholy, unpatriotic. It will be brought about by minorities and not by the majority; and upon the shoulders of the aiders and abettors be the burden and the toil.