An Appeal to Southern Honor and to Southern Common Sense
Peoria Daily Democratic Union, October 5, 1860
A few words of kindness, spoken in candor, may not be deemed out of place at the present juncture. It is hoped that they may be dispassionately considered by those to whom they are addressed. It is time that reason, not prejudice—patriotism, not fanaticism—should control the actions of men in all sections of this Union.
Who have ever been the defenders of the rights and interests of the South, and this, too, often at their own cost? who, but the Northern Democracy? And who is the acknowledged head of this Northern Democracy? who, but Stephen A. Douglas?
Is it possible that the southern people are lost to every sense of gratitude? Have they no friendly or grateful recollections of the past? Are they prepared to turn their backs upon those who have stood by them in their every conflict, and shielded and saved them from every danger? Do they want no friends in the North? Do they wish to precipitate upon us the Lincoln issue of "all free States, or all slave States?" We shall be slow to believe them capable of all or any of these wrongs or follies.
In 1848 they demanded, through Gen. Cass, that the Democracy of the whole country should go to battle upon the doctrine of non-intervention. The demand was complied with—the northern Democracy made a vigorous campaign and gained a glorious victory upon this issue, Gen. Cass being defeated solely through the defection of Southern Democratic States!
Still, the northern democracy, notwithstanding their disappointment in the South, held on firmly to the doctrine of non-intervention, as they do to-day, BELIEVING IT TO BE RIGHT IN ITSELF—and when the compromise measures of 1850, confirmatory of this doctrine, and embracing the present fugitive slave law, came up for consideration, the whole northern democracy, both in and out of Congress, STILL STOOD FIRMLY BY SOUTHERN RIGHTS, and AT THEIR HEAD STOOD STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS! And at a later period (1854) when the South desired the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, restricting slavery by a geographical line, through whose instrumentality were their wishes gratified?—Through whom but THE NORTHERN DEMOCRACY, LED ON BY STEPHEN A. DOUGLAS? Gen. Pierce was elected upon the strength of the compromise measures, which Douglas aided materially in carrying through Congress. Mr. Buchanan was elected principally upon the same issues, with the Kansas Nebraska bill, of which Douglas was the author, THROWN IN TO HELP HIM AT THE SOUTH. And yet, in the face of all these facts, we find men at the South so lost to reason, or so lost to honor, that they are ready to cut loose from the only friends they have ever had, or can ever hope to have in the northern and western States, and even ready to sacrifice the very man who has been their boldest and best defender in every conflict, and who has done more to establish their rights than any other man now living) Neither Mr. Calhoun, in the glory of his prime, nor Mr. Clay, in the pride of his popularity, ever saw the day when either of them, or both together could have satisfied the entire North and West, so triumphantly as judge Douglas has, of the just claims and rights of the South under the Constitution) And for this shall he be hunted down by the beneficiaries of his life-long efforts? "O, shame! where is thy blush?"
The pretext upon which certain southern politicians affect to base their hostility to judge Douglas is that he repudiates the idea of a slave code for the Territories—that is, he refuses to back down from the doctrine of Congressional non-intervention. Did not all these gentlemen vote for the Compromise Measures? Did they not all vote for the Kansas-Nebraska bill, Mr. Breckinridge among them? Did they not all vote for the Foote resolutions declaring the Compromise Measures "a finality on the slavery question?" Did they not all vote for the Nebraska bill as explanatory of those measures so far as they related to slavery? Did those measures, or did the Nebraska bill, contemplate ANYTHING MORE, OR ANYTHING LESS, than the simple but positive doctrine of NON INTERVENTION? We submit these facts to every candid and honorable mind in the South, and ask leave to challenge a fair and reasonable excuse for the UNWARRANTED course of conduct now being pursued by THE POLITICIANS of the South against judge Douglas—a man to whom they are indebted, more than to any other, for the recognition, in the North, of every right and claim of which they boast to-day.
We shall anticipate an answer—it is, that judge Douglas will not go the full length of the slave code proposition) There are good and sufficient reasons why he does not and should not fall in with an idea at once absurd, exacting, of doubtful constitutionality, and glaringly inconsistent with every southern as well as every northern democratic sentiment heretofore advanced, and in the face and eyes of every northern and every southern democratic vote heretofore cast, on the subject of slavery in the Territories! Non-intervention, on the part of Congress, is THE ONLY DOCTRINE which has EVER been established by the democracy, North and, South. Upon this doctrine the northern democracy still stand, and will stand forever, BUT THEY WILL GO NO FARTHER!
The Slave Code idea was conceived in sin and brought forth in iniquity. It was gotten up by certain southern gentlemen, who have an evil eye on the White House, for the express purpose of getting judge Douglas into an entanglement with southern prejudices, and thus defeat his election at the hands of the people! Shall the game win? Even if it should, the South will yet live to learn that judge Douglas and the northern democracy never desert their colors, never desert their friends, and never change their principles! He and they will go as far as the farthest to protect every citizen in his property and in his just rights, wherever the Constitution may extend, or wherever the flag of the Union may wave, but no farther!
We, the democracy of the North, with judge Douglas at our head, have for years and. years fought the battles of the South against the constantly increasing hordes of abolitionists. If, at a time when we still have the power to serve them and to save them, they shall consent to be led astray by designing and unprincipled aspirants to the Presidency and to Cabinet places, so be it! It will not be the first time that Iscariot has had his imitators, or Peter his disciples, in American politics.
As a dernier resort, the people of the South are made to believe that a dissolution of the Union, in case of the election of a northern man, will be an easy process and a very desirable consummation. This is an old trick—one which has heretofore, time and again, ended in smoke, and must always result in humiliating defeat. The dissolution of this Union, however much threatened, or however much desired by unprincipled scoundrels who are unfit to live beneath the protecting folds of the Star-spangled Banner, is a moral, physical, and financial impossibility. A common language, a common religion, and the ties of consanguinity, affecting almost every family in the nation, forbid it. A common interest forbids it. The common indebtedness, North and South, forbids it. The products of the different sections, needed for exchange, forbids it. Our inland seas, extending almost from zone to zone, upon whose bosoms are borne the varied products of our almost unending vallies, forbid it. Our iron bands, which interlace state to state from East to West, and from North to South, thus linking the Union together and binding it fast as with hooks of steel, and all owing a common ownership, forbid it. Above all, the affections of our people, who cannot but love one another—the patriotism which they cherish as their proudest birth right—and the pride of nationality which instinctively prompts us all to wish to see "our own, our native land," at the head of all governments upon earth, and the best of all governments upon earth, will forever induce them to frown upon the wickedness, and mock to scorn the folly, of any scheme having for its aim a dissolution of this glorious and truly God-like Union, for love and justice form its basis!
We therefore beseech our southern brethren to discard from their counsels all evil advisers. We shall all be better off in the Union than outside of it. The South, it is true, might, to some extent, be better off than the North—but still, she will ever have a necessity for a North, both to supply her wants and to purchase her products. From our individual standpoint, we can look upon these matters dispassionately. The Mississippi valley, which may be called the neutral ground, can find a market either East or South for its products—and should the North and the South ever come to blows, which Heaven forbid! the Giant West, uncontaminated by fanaticism, uncorrupted by monopolies, and too youthful and vigorous to be terrified by silly boasts or idle clamor, will, as heretofore, with Douglas in the van, boldly step forward and say to the contending sections, "PEACE—BE STILL"!
For a most apparent reason, we shall not stop to discuss the constitutionality of the Union-dissolving idea of a Slave Code—an idea hatched in the midnight of treason, and designed for the double purpose of destroying Douglas and of preparing the southern heart for secession. It is, as any one must clearly see, a palpable invasion of all the democratic platforms, and involves the unconditional abrogation of the doctrine of non-intervention—a doctrine which, though originating in the South, has been generously adopted in the North, and has become canonized in the hearts of the whole American democracy. We warn our southern friends against the dangers of this new dogma, for it is next of kin to Black Republicanism, which claims a similar prerogative for Congress. If Congress has the power to protect slavery in the Territories by means of a Slave Code, it also has the power to prohibit slavery in the Territories by means of a Free Code. There can be no division of this question. If Congress has the power to do the one it certainly has the power to do the other. Are our southern friends prepared to abandon their only shield of safety, non-intervention, and, by a blind adherence to the idea of a slave code virtually recognize the Black Republican doctrine of Congressional interference on the subject of slavery in the Territories? We hope not—we trust not—nor shall we believe them capable of such self-destruction until the ides of November shall leave us no alternative but to mourn their folly and to denounce their recreancy! Although the infamy of an "irrepressible conflict" may have been conceived in an unpatriotic mind, it may still behoove those most deeply interested to see to it that prophecy shall not become destiny! We warn you as brothers, and as such we shall stand by you so long as you shall take wisdom for your guide and preserve your principles as you would your honor!