The Cotton States
San Francisco Daily Alta California, April 2, 1861
It seems to us that if the Cotton States be allowed rope enough they will, in the end, effectually dispose of themselves. They have already commenced to legislate against the Border States. By an act of the Montgomery Congress, a tax of thirty per cent. is imposed on all negroes imported from any of the Border States, and it is possible that other acts of a like character will follow. Legislation such as this is not by any means calculated to secure the cooperation of Virginia and the belt of states which are acting with her. It will, on the contrary, awaken a spirit of retaliation.
In the consideration of the subject, too, it must be borne in mind that from the lights before us it cannot be determined whether the majority of the people in the Cotton States are really in favor of secession or not. In truth, they have not been permitted to say much on the subject. All they have done was to elect delegates to conventions; these conventions passed ordinances of secession, but, except in the case of Texas, none of them were submitted to the people for ratification or rejection. Delegates were then sent to Montgomery, who adopted a provisional Constitution and elected a President and Vice President without consulting the people, and now we have a permanent Constitution, but whether anything more will be required to give it validity than the votes of the few dozen Secessionists, at last dates in session at Montgomery, has not yet transpired. Indeed, a correspondent of a Georgia paper states that there is no intention of allowing the people to have a voice in such trifling concerns as the adoption of an organic law. "The Constitution," he says, "will not be referred to the people for ratification. It will only be referred to the several State Conventions, which have adjourned subject to the call of the President of those Conventions, the members of which were elected with plenary powers. The people, individually, will not be called upon to ratify or reject at the ballot box, the new Constitution. It will be done alone by the Conventions already elected. This mode of procedure is novel and unprecedented in this Government. But it is justified by the law of necessity—the fact that the Cotton States are in a state of revolution, and that the nature and condition of things requires prompt and immediate action. These are good reasons, we think, and cannot fail to satisfy a reasonable and patriotic people."
If no serious results follow from proceeding so high-handed in their nature, it is only because the masses in the Cotton States are besotted to an extent of which we have no conception. The chains are being riveted for them, and the yoke prepared, and they must be very unobservant indeed, if they have not long ago perceived it.