It Is the First Step Which Costs
New Orleans Daily True Delta, November 20, 1860
It is announced that Governor Thomas O. Moore has yielded before the pressure of Slidell and his rump retinue, and consented to the issuance of a proclamation convening the general assembly in extra session. We were aware of the efforts being made by the leader of the secession jobbers at the Charleston convention to accomplish this object, and we feared that our weak, irresolute and easily persuaded executive would finally yield to incessant importunity, and thus lend himself to the disunion schemes of men who regard him only as a convenient and plastic tool in their hands. Under this impression we made no appeals to him on behalf of the great mass of our citizens who utterly repudiate all disorganising and revolutionary schemes for the redress of national or state grievances, nor yet in sympathy with the commerce of our city, which is being paralysed, and with those who conduct it, who are daily becoming conscious that ruin must soon overwhelm them.
What Governor Moore can imagine of good from an expensive proceeding like that of an extra session of the legislature, which, in any event, can only anticipate the regular session by three or four weeks, we are at a loss to conceive, as we are what he and those who dictate this course to him contemplate, unless indeed it be to add to the excitement, distrust and alarm already pervading the community, and which are involving every man of business to an extent of which the clearest sighted and most sagacious cannot see the end or prepare for it. If Louisiana allows herself to be drawn into the wake of South Carolina, Florida and Mississippi on this occasion; if she follows the lead being prepared for her by men without principle, talents or patriotism, it will be well for her citizens of property, position and responsibility to wake up to what they seem utterly blind not to perceive is certain to befall them. It is all very well for agents of disunion constituents, for men deeply, perhaps immensely, indebted to northern houses, for capitalists with large sums of money unemployed and upon the look-out for sacrifices, for broken down and characterless politicians, and the large swarm of beggarly no-account people to be found in all large cities, to clamor for revolution and the wild license it allows to those who initiate or direct it while they happen to continue in the ascendant. But it is far otherwise with our banking, insurance and other institutions, with our merchants, traders and mechanics, with the industrious, hard-working, thrifty and law-abiding tens of thousands who constitute what is considered well ordered society, and to whose ears the howls of the disorderly, the clamors of the dissatisfied and the thunders of civil war carry nothing but the knell of prosperity, civil order and political freedom. Accustomed to great political excitement, many are utterly unable to comprehend the possibility of revolution, and to this habitude of thought must the apparent apathy now pervading the conservative masses of the south be ascribed. The vagaries of ignoble Catilines pass unheeded by the great body of this hitherto prosperous, contented and free people, and to this state of the popular mind, and not to real indifference to the maintenance of the laws, institutions and freedom of the nation, must the apparent unconcern witnessed be ascribed. That any portion of this highly intelligent and sensitively honorable population can share the sentiments daily proclaimed by persons announcing themselves ostentatiously as the enemies of this splendid and beneficent system of government under which we all live successful and free, we cannot believe, for we are utterly unable to comprehend how any but the most abandoned and wicked can desire the destruction, personally or pecuniarily, of his fellow-countrymen, however misguided, unjust or dishonest some, or a majority even, may have been; or how a really honest and upright man could stimulate political ill-will and state alienation with often no higher motive than springs from the suggestions of a dishonest intention to be thus enabled to escape from the payment of an honestly contracted obligation. Perhaps no member of this community has fewer ties to bind him to the inhabitants of the free states of this republic than the writer of these lines, or one who would be more prompt to advise the adoption of a rigorous course to compel them to do their duty according to the constitution and the laws; but rather than see a separation take place, tinctured, touched or contaminated by dishonesty, we would prefer that the waves of the Atlantic would overwhelm us all. We will never advocate or vote for a separation of this Union upon any ground less sufficient than will justify immediate revolution, and no pecuniary or sordid appeal, such as the organs new, old and hypothecated of disunionism are in the habit of addressing their few readers, will, we are sure, ever incline any honest or reflecting man to their standard. The reopening of the African slave trade, the consequential supersession of the white labor now employed mechanically and otherwise in these southern states, the repudiation of our just debts to the people of the free states, and other inducements of a similar character we daily hear and see addressed to the cupidity of men, cannot, we are convinced, seduce any good citizen from his duty to his state, the constitution, the laws and the Union! If the election of Mr. Lincoln is to be regarded as a just cause for a dissolution of this confederacy of peoples, before he has entered upon the discharge of his presidential duties, before he has proclaimed his views of public policy, or committed an overt act of treason, or even unfriendliness against the south or its institutions, and when it is known that a Senate and House of Representatives are opposed to
him and his principles—that the Supreme court of the Union has judicially decided against, and will continue to decide against themand that a million majority at least of the popular vote of the republic will be recorded against him; it follows that no stable government can ever exist on this continent again; for, it will not be reason or common sense, but the passions of men and the conspiracies of demagogues that will determine political conduct. No southern confederacy, certainly, can ever be formed with the consent of the people, if the reopening of the African slave trade, or the free trade ideas of Carolina prevail—for the first will be death to Virginia and the second to Louisiana—were the decision of the matter exclusively left with the agricultural slave-owners themselves, and the entire white population of the south, besides, excluded from a voice. These considerations ought to have suggested doubts to Governor Moore before he unwisely allowed himself to take his first step in the march of disunion.
1. The next regular session of the Louisiana legislature would not have begun until January 21, 1861. Governor Moore called an extra session to meet December 10, 1860. The session lasted three days only, during which time a convention bill and a $500,000 military appropriation bill were enacted.