Cheap Self Government
New Orleans Daily True Delta, November 3, 1860
The standing argument and most powerful appeal of the nullifiers in favor of the division of these States, is the absurdly fallacious one that, separated, the cost of a southern administration of the government would be comparatively trifling, while the price of the importations of foreign merchandize would be greatly diminished in consequence of the absolute free trade that would then be established. This sordid appeal any one of ordinary intelligence can see is as destitute of weight as all the rest of the nonsense which is usually fulminated by the enemies of republican government; for, if absolute free trade were to prevail in the south on the separation of the states, as we have shown in reply to Yancey's harangue, one southern product, sugar, would soon cease to be numbered as a part of the agricultural wealth of Louisiana. Neither the disunionists or nullifiers of Virginia, South Carolina or Mississippi would consent to the payment of a bonus of forty per cent or more to the growers of a commodity, one-fifth of which, in all probability, they could not consume, merely to enrich Louisiana, but on 'the contrary, they would be found, as at present, doing their utmost to dispense with us and our products altogether, if compatible with their own convenience and interest. Nor could we blame them for so doing, were Louisiana to be so utterly destitute of sense as to place herself in their power, which, either within or without this Union, we are very sure her intelligent people will never do. But putting aside the matter of sugar, we should like one of those disorganizers like Yancey, or say, our eloquent, learned and profound free-trade friend, Slidell, who is a walking library, as we all know, upon all subjects, commercial included, how they propose to defray the expense of the southern government they are conspiring to create? If commerce is to be free as the air we breathe, as we think it ought to be whether the Union be dissolved or not, they, no doubt, have some other fiscal expedient, some other scheme in their budget, some ingenious contrivance other than direct or indirect taxation to maintain the standing army then necessary to protect us from "wide awake" invaders, from external filibusters, and marauders generally. We shall require, too, a navy, a federal judiciary, that is if the chivalry will condescend to take us into their happy and modest family, with a president, cabinet, diplomatic and consular corps and the usual expensive paraphernalia of government where the white mud-sills of society, mechanics, laborers and such like ungenteel trash, will be excluded from all voice, influence and participation in its administration. How then, we respectfully enquire of the disunionists, do they purpose to defray the cost of these expensive appurtenances to civilized society? They certainly do not contemplate raising taxes from poor white trash, their exchequer would surely shrink abashed from enrichment by contributions from any such ignoble source; then whence, we repeat, are the ways and means to be derived which the southern aristocracy will require to move the machine they are courting civil war and bloodshed to construct? Do they propose to impose direct taxation for the purpose; and if so, upon what description of property other than slaves and land, do they design to levy it? To protect our northern and western frontiers from the raids of our abolition enemies, to repel with dignity and efficiency the forays the restless and turbulent populations of the free states, bordering upon the new republic of the south, will undoubtedly then be constantly undertaking, will require at least a standing army of thirty or forty thousand men, to sustain which as many millions of dollars a year will be required. We do not stop to ask our nullifying masters of what description of force this army will be composed; nor whether they will accept the project of Chancellor Harper, (we think it was) of South Carolina, who seriously advocated the embodying of fifty or sixty thousand slaves for the purpose, which description of force at this time would cost the new republic not more, at the outside, than say ninety millions of dollars, a mere bagatelle for a purpose so patriotic and sublime as cutting loose from the Northern mud-sills would admittedly be. If the nigger army is difficult of organization, or if financial objections are made to such a use of so large a quantity of agricultural muscle, perhaps the chivalry themselves—the large owners of slave property exclusively—will volunteer to compose the force, or adopt the French system of conscription among themselves to sustain it. Common fellows, who are soiled by vulgar occupations, shop-keepers, tradesmen, mechanics, editors and other human fry of unclean tendencies, ought not to be allowed to aspire to places in the army raised for such exalted ends; but on the contrary, its rank and file, subordinates and chieftains, should be like the Janizaries of the Turkish sultan of old, picked for the purpose and pampered for the service. However this important matter may finally be determined, the vulgar consideration of the cost of the new enjoyment of southern government which is promised us will intrude, and we again return to it and anxiously supplicate our bolting friends to tell us how it is proposed to be met? The plan of commencing the war by the confiscation of the property of all unpatriotic opponents of the new system is not a bad one; but as there will be difficulty in clearly defining the guilt or innocence of parties, we fear the amount realized will not go far in the event of actual hostilities; therefore, "still harping on my daughter," we are greatly exercised about the budget.
Our ancient friend Slidell will, we are sure, hasten to respond to our wishes expressed above for more light on this rather murky prospect; and as he has in matters of government everything at his fingers' ends, knows Adam Smith, Say, Ricardo, Mill and all other writers on political economy and finance by heart, we know we do not expect too much from the affectionate, good will he bears us, when we promise our readers an elucidation of this knotty question from his pen that will astonish the natives. At the same time let us disclaim in his behalf, in advance, any intention of being himself in any way committed to nullification or any thing of the sort in any manner involving any personal responsibility, for which he will be our authority for stating, he has no relish, at the same time, should it succeed, he desires it to be understood he will, if his friends insist upon it, take the presidency, secretaryship of state or the mission to France, provided he can have
1. Chancellor William Harper of the Supreme Court of South Carolina.