The Grave Mistake
New Orleans Daily True Delta, January 31, 1861
Virginia has made a call upon her sister states of the south to meet her by delegation in the city of Washington on the 4th proximo, there and then to discuss such measures of redress as the present alarming emergency in public affairs may make advisable, to devise a plan of settlement, that will, if adopted, restore the Union to its integrity, and which will for ever prevent the question of slavery being made a subject of controversy or discussion outside of the states wherein it now exists or may at any time hereafter be established. To this appeal of our great sister state there appears at present little likelihood of any favorable response from the seceding states, and we profoundly regret it; first, because any suggestion or mode of settlement, or project of co-operation that might emanate from a source so justly entitled to respect, could not fail to combine all that is compatible with the nicest sense of honor and the most exacting sense of right; and secondly, because now, as always, we deprecate that course of action which would separate the cotton states now or hereafter, socially or politically, from our powerful and faithful brethren of the frontier states. The grave mistake, however, is made by the advocates of conciliation in Virginia and other frontier states in supposing that the political element now in the ascendency in the cotton states desires, seeks for, or would be satisfied with any plan of settlement that the united demands of the whole south, strengthened by the just, honest and patriotic democratic sentiment of the free states, could extort or voluntarily procure from the inflated enemies of the institution of slavery in the free states; consequently, the efforts Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland and Missouri may make to that end will be unsupported by the states that have already sought in revolution a redress of the grievances of which the frontier states mainly had to complain. The refusal of the immediate Secessionists to leave any matter open to friendly discussion; to provide a common ground for all the above states to occupy whence to confront their free state opponents; their determined opposition even to allow the sense of the people to be taken on the extreme measures of redress they have, in a moment of great sectional excitement, managed to have passed, by conventions, the members comprising which were chosen by a popular vote far below that to which the state is entitled, and their persistent declarations that they are determined upon making the secession of the cotton states a permanent separation from the free states, all combine to expose the error, now so generally entertained in Virginia and other frontier slave states, that any mode of settlement, no matter how complete and satisfactory to the south it may be made, will induce all the cotton seceding states to return to the Union they have so precipitately abandoned. Already South Carolina has rejected the peaceful and friendly overtures of Virginia to unite her action with that of the Old Dominion, by declaring that her resolve is taken, that the severance she has long contemplated, as well as labored to bring about, is an accomplished fact, and that, out of the confederation, she is resolved to stay out; consequently, no course Virginia and other frontier slave states may commend or unite in adopting, no plan of adjustment of past disputes, no renunciation, however solemn or obligatory, of right to interfere with slavery where it now exists or may hereafter extend, by the free states, will reconcile her to return to communion with them or to be a constituent of a republic of which they are members. This is frank, outspoken and unmistakable upon the part of the Palmetto state; it is the ultimatum of a people who hate the Union, who have long loathed it, who regard it as an incubus upon their prosperity, a clog to their progression, a reproach to their pride, their spirit and their independence. Our readers will have learned from our columns long since our opinions of the course South Carolina would undoubtedly adopt in such a contingency as that which has occurred. We over and over again told our readers that the disruption of the democratic party at Charleston was the first movement in the programme of disunion; that the men of Carolina were honorable, highminded, talented and resolute, and unlike the mercenary herd of
vulgar and venal politicians with which we are brought in contact in this region and the people are cursed; they meant what they said and acted from a foregone conclusion. The result is now before the nation. South Carolina is out of the Union; has long panted after this separation; has irrevocably determined never to return to it. We know her people well; we therefore look upon all endeavors to conciliate her by concessions, no matter how great or comprehensive, as of no avail, and we have made up our mind to regard her as lost to any future reconstruction that may be obtained or resolved upon. The question then is, shall Louisiana adhere, like South Carolina, to a determination of eternal separation from the Union, or will she respond to the invitation of Virginia and make common cause, inside or out of the Union, in maintenance of their just rights, their slave property, and their security in common? Those who are in favor of the principles of South Carolina, who sincerely believe that faith with the Northern states cannot be maintained, that no compromise, no compact, no obligation, however sacred or patriotic, will bind them, will of course repudiate the appeal of old and honored Virginia; but are the people of Louisiana of these; and have they reflected fully upon the mighty and varied interests she has to provide for and secure, which the other seceded states can afford to ridicule and ignore? We regard the Union as irreparably divided—need we assure our readers with what regret and affliction we make the admission? South Carolina will, we are confident, never return to it peacefully, and otherwise the people will never allow her to be brought; therefore Virginia errs in supposing that state can be made a party to any new basis of arrangement of the slavery issue; but it is otherwise with Louisiana, and we hope she will not, through unauthorized channels, reject the overtures the great frontier slave state may commend to her acceptance.