The Crusade against the Union

San Francisco Daily Alta California, January 9, 1860

The sectional warfare that now threatens so seriously the perpetuity of this Union must reach its culmination at an early day. It must end in a dissolution of the compact which binds the states together; one faction must yield to the other, and acquiesce in the doctrines, and common sense and reason must come to the rescue, and by a fair and equitable compromise, settle, to the satisfaction of either party, the issues which now divide the North and the South. One of these alternatives is nigh at hand, for it is evident that matters cannot long continue in their present condition. It is idle and useless to disguise the fact, but we are on the eve of a crisis having no other evil in prospect than one of these results. Which shall it be? Certainly, at the present juncture when we read of the scenes which are each day being enacted upon the floor of Congress, of the personal collisions and difficulties that threaten at any moment to culminate in a bloody battle underneath the very dome of the Capitol of the nation, when we see the Legislatures of some of the States openly and officially espousing the doctrine of disunion, it is time to ask of ourselves here upon the Pacific coast, how this is to end, and what is the position which we are to occupy? In the sectional contest, we can do nothing but stand upon the neutral ground of loyalty to this Union, come what may. We can, and must, counsel wise and patriotic reasoners; we can and must use all the influence which one State of the Sovereign whole can exercise upon the others, in behalf of such an end.

But when we have done this, if it is an idle effort to preserve harmony—if it is a useless task, and an example of loyalty to be thrown away upon the objects void of reason—if dissolution is to be the only alternative which is left, then it behooves us to cast about us, and see where we stand, to ascertain upon what basis we are to exist when thrown upon our own resources. The prudent man sets his house in order, prepared to meet any crisis that may come upon him. More especially, when the future looms black and portent with the threatening clouds, he takes care to prepare himself for the impending storm, and, as a consequence, passes through unscathed.

So, too, with California. Her loyalty to the Union is steadfast and abiding. She, from her remote position, looks from across the wide-stretching continent, with deep-seated regret upon the fratricidal war which is now being waged in Congress, and mourns over the wild and painful spectacle. She will be the last to give her consent to disunion; she will faithfully bide the compact into which she has entered in common with her sister States. And only when they desert her, will she abandon this determination and this faith. It is scarcely too much to say, that she, with her sister, Oregon, are the only truly and purely loyal States in the Union. They are the only ones, in fact, that have fully lived up to the compact, and are prepared to abide by it through good and through evil.

But let it not be presumed that it is from a sense of fear, or their own weakness, that they are thus loyal. California is not intimidated by fear, nor is she conscious of being weak. There is, perhaps, no State in this Union, even if thrown to-morrow upon its own resources, compelled to rely wholly upon itself in its intercourse with the world, whose future would beam more brightly with promise than California. Her geographical location is such, that she would occupy an important and a commanding commercial position, and so long as she conducted herself with fairness toward other nations, nothing but the law of might against right would ever endanger her independence or her prosperity. Conscious of her own inherent strength and her resources, she will calmly abide the issue now pending. But while exerting all her power and her influence in behalf of the Union, it is the duty of her people to study carefully the prospect before them, and to be prepared for the worst results that the cause of factional discord can bring upon them. In doing this, we shall but emulate the wise and prudent business man, who, while he sees the approach of a financial crisis, which he cannot stay, put his affairs in order, and prepares himself to meet it manfully.