Nashville Union and American, December 1, 1860
In all that we have written, connected with the present revolutionary condition of the Union, we have studiously and purposely avoided any discussion of the remedy for the just grievances of the South. We have assumed, what would be an insult to the intelligence of the Southern mind to doubt, that these grievances exist. We have not deemed it necessary to reproduce the volumes of insult and the long catalogue of aggressions that have been perpetrated by the North upon the South. This election of LINCOLN is not assumed to be an actual wrong in itself, but only the crowning and authoritative evidence that the series of outrages perpetrated upon our rights meet with the approval of a majority of the Northern people. It has been frequently pleaded that LINCOLN failed to receive a majority of the votes of the whole people, and therefore, that he is less dangerous and obnoxious to us. This is true. But it is a far more significant fact, because it exhibits the political power of the party that elected him, that he did receive a majority of the votes in every Northern State (including New Jersey by the recent returns) ; and that these States, in all of which he received overwhelming majorities, except in one or two small States, have the power, and will continue to have the power, to control the election of a President. It would, indeed, have been a far less bitter result to the South, if the President elect had stood on a platform conservative and broad enough to have controlled a sufficient number of votes in the slaveholding States to sum up a majority of the whole people of the Union. Therein lies the bitterness of the chalice commended to our lips; that the chief chosen by the Northern sectionalists could not even command one electoral vote in the Southern States, by reason of his determined and avowed hostility to our institutions. And he will therefore go into the Presidency a minority President, elected by an adroit marshaling of sectional hate, and by deliberately educating the Northern mind to this hostility, in the States who have thus usurped, under the cover of the Constitution, the entire Administration of the Federal Government. It is sufficient that the people of the Southern States recognize the wrongs and outrages they have suffered. We take it for granted that on this point the South is united. We find no respectable authority, no considerable portion of Southern men, certainly no true Southern men of intelligence, denying this patent fact. But the fact is different concerning the remedy. In some of the “cotton States” as they are designated in contradistinction to the more Northern slaveholding States, a sentiment almost united, and in South Carolina, entirely so, prevails. Secession is the remedy already determined on in the public mind, in several of these States. In all the States lying North of the cotton line a greater diversity of opinion exists. It is in deference to this acknowledged diversity that we have refrained from a discussion of the remedy. It is in deference to it that we favor the plan of a Southern Convention, where the calm and wise minds—the ablest, best and most patriotic men of the South may assemble, and after calmly surveying the field, may take counsel of each other and of their constituents, and resolve on the same remedy and a united action. Unity was never more essential to a people than to the South in our present condition. It is better that we should act with less wisdom, abstractly considered, than that we should be divided in our action. Any divided action must necessarily be feeble and inadequate, and must entail upon the South inconceivable evils. It is division and party strife that have thus far paralyzed every patriotic movement in the South, and have reduced us to the humiliation in which we now find ourselves. What Southern man is there now that would not prefer to see his most bitter political antagonist in the Presidential chair, under the old party designations, than to have witnessed the advent to power of this revolutionary party? If we could have given up our party prejudices before the election and united as one man, what a moral power might we not have exerted upon the Northern people! We might even, by this union, have convinced them that they could not try the mad experiment they have now ventured upon, and thus saved the South from the deep humiliation in which she is now placed and have saved our rights in the Union. It is idle to cry out that your party antagonist is alone responsible for this error. We were all wedded, perhaps too blindly wedded, to our party banners to agree before the election. We pass no judgment upon others, and do not wish to perpetuate the ignoble strife by throwing criminations at our opponents. It is the part of wisdom to heal up these criminations and prove mutually magnanimous and generous, by ascribing our division to party strife, and not by throwing all the blame upon our brother.. We have our own opinion about the source of the error, and others may differ with us. But we will not offend any portion of, our countrymen, at this juncture, by laying upon their shoulders the whole responsibility. We rather ascribe their errors to too great devotion to consistency, too much devotion to friends with whom they had formerly acted. The Southern people have magnanimity and patriotism enough to divide the censure and now unite for their country. Shall we perpetuate these animosities in the face of a foe that is perfectly consolidated, that has just harnessed on the tremendous powers of the Federal Government to strike us down? Is that man a patriot and a true Southern man, who, in the face of this mighty hostile force, continues to insist upon the ancient wrangles and enmities, continues to pour his batteries into those who are in the same cause with him, and continues to insist upon this fatal and weak division? It is now certain that these divisions have brought us to the verge of ruin, by deceiving our mutual enemies. These enemies have formed the erroneous conclusion, as we trust, that some of us were not loyal to our institutions, because we wrangled among ourselves. Is the South so fallen, so low and debased, that, seeing the effect her divisions have produced to strengthen her enemies and weaken her friends, she will continue this false and fatal system, and thus surrender, through sheer moral weakness, the very citadel of her strength? We trust not. May the Ruler of Nations avert so dire a calamity!