New Orleans Bee, December 24, 1860
We are decidedly in favor of a united South. Nay, we hold that the Southern States must combine with a view of exhibiting consolidated strength, and of blending their resources for support and defense. No single State could possibly long maintain an independent existence without grinding her citizens to the earth by a weight of intolerable taxation. If, therefore, a community of feeling and principle, a common object and a common destiny failed to admonish the Southern States of the necessity of union, this object would be attained by the irresistible impulse of a common interest. The Southern States which secede must come together under a confederated government.
Hence the question of co-operation and concert of action among the several slaveholding commonwealths scarcely admits of discussion. None oppose it, at the proper time and in the proper manner. All are satisfied that the various States which contemplate secession must deliberate together, and agree upon a system of government and an organic law which each alike will bind itself to respect and obey. But there exists a difference of opinion touching the mode and manner of co-operation. One portion of the community contend that this can only be effected by the several States after they have seceded; that it is a logical absurdity for States within the Union to seek concert of action with States outside of the Union, and that after secession this paramount object may be easily and expeditiously accomplished. The other portion are desirous that co-operation and mutual consultation should precede secession; and some of them appear to indulge a hope that the final resort may possibly be averted by the adoption of their views. As we observed in a former article, we entertain no doubts whatever of the entire good faith and sincerity of both parties, and deem it unwise as well as ungenerous tofling reproaches in the teeth of honest Southern men because they fail to appreciate conclusions which have been reached by other Southern men, equally honest and patriotic. The point at issue is a legitimate one, which may be fairly and fully discussed in a spirit of entire candor and moderation, and without the slightest admixture of personal or sectional feeling.
If concert of action among all the Southern States were practicable, we should willingly give our sanction to the project; but with respect to Louisiana it must prove wholly impracticable and impossible. Just look at the movements in progress among the Gulf States. Here is South Carolina, to begin with, no longer part and parcel of the American Confederacy. Being out of the Union, we of Louisiana cannot lawfully and constitutionally enter into compacts or agreements with her, so long as we continue to recognize the Constitution and laws of the United States. We are and will remain under another government until our Convention shall assemble, and shall formally dissolve further connection with the American Union. We really, then, have no right to consult South Carolina. Next comes Florida. The delegates to the Convention of that State were elected on the 22d inst., and the Convention itself will meet on the 3d January next. Florida will be out of the Union in less than two weeks. Georgia holds her election for delegates on the 3d January, and her Convention meets on the 18th. The predominant policy of Georgia is secession. There is an effort now making in the State to organize a co-operation party; but it will fail of achieving any thing substantial. Mississippi has chosen an immense majority of separate secession delegates, and her Convention meets on Monday next. She will undoubtedly follow the example of South Carolina. Alabama votes to-day for delegates, and her Convention will assemble on the 7th January. The public sentiment of that State is overwhelming in favor of immediate secession.
With respect to Louisiana, we do not choose our delegates until the 7th January, while our Convention is not convoked until the 23d of the same month. Consequently, so far as human foresight extends, we may say that when Louisiana proceeds to deliberate on the policy she will pursue, South Carolina, Florida, Georgia, Alabama and Mississippi will have severed themselves from the Union. With what States is Louisiana to co-operate, and seek concert of action? Must she leave her five sisters—her associates and co-laborers in the production of the great agricultural staple of the South, and linked together by identically the same interests—must she desert them in the critical period of their fate, to join the border slave States and chaffer and haggle with the North for new compromises and concessions? Is this a policy becoming the dignity and self-respect of Louisiana? Would it be just towards those cotton States which have already assumed their independence? We can understand the position of those who support cooperation because they still hope to preserve the Union. There are such amongst us, and we respect their convictions while thinking them erroneous. But how men professing to be Secessionists still proclaim themselves opposed to separate State action is something so paradoxical that it may well puzzle the shrewdest understanding. If the policy of united action were submitted as an original proposition preceding actual secession on the part of any Southern State whatever, the argument in its behalf would be a potent one; but as nothing of the sort has been essayed, as seven or eight States have provided for the resumption of their sovereignty at an early day, and by separate action, the scheme of co-operation is divested of those features which would otherwise recommend it. It cannot be carried into effect so as to embrace the entire South. It cannot, therefore, bind the South. It cannot affect States which will not be in the Union at the time the experiment would be made. Hence we cannot conscientiously recommend it.
But there is a species of co-operation which would not be amenable to the objections urged against the theory we have been considering. It is embodied in the annexed passage from a letter of the Hon. T. R. COBB, brother of the late Secretary of the Treasury:
The greater the number of States which retire together from the Union—the more dignity and moral weight will the movement have. Any haste in one State to move in advance of the others (though not so intended) will have or be construed into an appearance of a disregard to the twill and action of others. And while I am free to admit that each State must act for herself and resume, by her own independent will, her delegated authority, yet I conceive that it is possible and highly desirable that all of them should assign some common day for such resumption. In the mean time proper steps might be taken not only to secure harmonious action, but to provide for a future confederacy.
A similar view has been very recently put forth by Senator TOOMBS, of Georgia, in a letter to the citizens of Danburg, who had requested him to address a public meeting at that place. He distinctly favors a simultaneous period for the secession of the cotton States, saying, "we ought not to divide on this point," and that we should not delay longer than the 4th March, next. To co-operate in the time of withdrawing from the Union, so that adequate preparation may be made for the exigency, is undoubtedly desirable, and is a very different thing from the species of co-operation proposed by its supporters in New Orleans.