The True Policy

New Orleans Bee, November 19, 1860

Most of those papers in the South which, during the late Presidential campaign, had assumed a conservative position, are now endeavoring to shape a course through the troublous period we have encountered which may possibly secure the rights of the South without entailing upon her the stern necessity of dissolving the Union. Among these journals we recognize the Savannah Republican as one of the most high-toned, patriotic and intelligent—loving the Union and desirous of perpetuating it, but loving the South and her claims to justice and fair treatment still more. In its number of the 14th inst., the Republican has an elaborate and well-considered article on the state of our federal relations and on the policy to be pursued. It begins by an enumeration of the facts of the case, which are, briefly, the election of LINCOLN as a purely sectional triumph; his election by a party whose leading sentiment and cardinal principle is opposition to slavery and the nullification by that party in most of the non-slaveholding States of a law providing for the surrender of fugitive slaves—a law which they openly acknowledge to be in accordance with an express constitutional provision. These are the positive, tangible, undeniable wrongs committed by the North upon the South. As it may be assumed that Mr. LINCOLN is better than his party, our contemporary proceeds to show, first, by authentic declarations from his organs, and next, by his own deliberate expressions of opinion, that Mr. LINCOLN is uncompromisingly hostile to the domestic institutions of the South. The evidence on the subject is recapitulated as follows:

To sum up the whole to a conclusion, we may reasonably regard it as settled, so far as Republican views and intentions can settle it, that the people of the South are living in sin and crime, that the Federal Government should outlaw the domestic institutions of one-half the States of the Union, and on all occasions where it is called on to legislate with regard to them, it should so legislate as will most effectually destroy them. The question whether or not the institution of slavery should be let alone and its existence or non-existence, everywhere, left to the laws of climate and production and the wishes of the people, has been decided against us. Nor is this state of things merely to last with Lincoln; we are told that a radical and permanent change in the policy of the Government with regard to slavery has been inaugurated, and that it is to be kept in operation until, through its agency, the institution shall have been swept entirely away. This is the promise, and they have the power to make it good. We take it for granted that they are honest in what they say. They may not have the power now, owing to the present constitution of the two houses of Congress, but it is evident that they have only to will it to accomplish every purpose within the next four years.

With such a prospect before them, the Southern States may well pause ere they consent to go on as they have hitherto done, trusting either to the conservatism of the North, or to the strength of party to neutralize Black Republican hatred. It is manifest that the South cannot possibly consent to dwell in the Union upon sufferance; the mere vassal and thrall of a party which aims at her ruin and degradation, and which only awaits a reinforcement to accomplish it under the forms of the Constitution. Such a state of practical servitude and submission, where all sense of equality would be lost, and where we should be placed at the mercy of a relentless master, would necessarily become perfectly intolerable. It is wholly impossible to remain as we are, because simple acquiescence in the existing state of things would encourage our foes and enfeeble ourselves. One of two remedies must be invoked: Either the South must separate from the North, or must receive such ample guarantees of security and immunity for the future, by a new and well-defined compact, as will dissipate all apprehension of a renewal of sectional conflict. Now there are hosts of honest, truehearted Southerners who are loth to break up the Union, and will only consent to secede after it shall have been demonstrated that all other means of relief have proved futile; and that the South in justice to her own indefeasible privileges is compelled to resort to the paramount law of self-protection. If, therefore, the South can abide safely and honorably in the Union, there are few indeed who will not rejoice at the consummation.

But how can this be accomplished? How are we to persuade the North to forsake its oppressive and iniquitous policy, and to render equal justice to the weaker section of the confederacy? The Savannah Republican suggests a National Convention to be composed of three delegates from every State. This plan seems to us highly objectionable. We have learned from dear-bought experience to distrust National Conventions. The evils we are now deploring were to a great extent the result of the feuds and discords of a National Convention. Congress itself, which is practically a National Convention, presents a striking illustration of the irreconcilable contrariety of opinions, the hopeless jar and shock of antagonistic principles which such assemblages must inevitably engender. A National Convention such as is contemplated would prove a perfect bear-garden, wherein North and South would clamor, and quarrel, and combat. No! There is but one feasible mode of convincing the North that we are in earnest, and that the alternative of justice or disunion is before the country, and that is by a Southern Conference composed exclusively of delegates from all the slaveholding States. Such an assemblage would embody the ability, wisdom and patriotism of the South. The delegates would come together in a fraternal spirit; would dispassionately investigate the grave issues before them; determine precisely what legislative changes or constitutional amendments might be essential to the security of the South from future aggression, and draft a statement of grievances and bill of rights to be submitted to the North. Doing this, the South would occupy a position at once of calmness, power and dignity, as well as of conciliation. She would be in no wise responsible for consequences. She would claim her just rights as an indispensable condition of her further continuance in the Union. Failing to obtain them, she would then act with unanimity, and a resort to the extreme measure of separation would meet with no dissentient voice even from among the most conservative of her sons. This is the last solitary resource of those of us who still cling to the hope of preserving the Union.