Sioux City Register, December 1, 1860
That man must be blind to passing events who does not, in the widely extended and tumultuous excitement of the Southern people see fearful indications of imminent peril to our institutions. There is in the South a class of radical "fire eaters" whose sole aim for years, has been to inflame and exasperate the masses.—But all their efforts have hitherto been fruitless. The value of the Union has always largely preponderated over all real as well as immaginary wrongs to which public attention has been directed. The really distinguished statesmen of the South have always avowed their determination to sustain the Union, and their patriotic councils have been heeded.—It cannot be denied, however, that disaffection and open hostility has now reached an extent and intensity far beyond any precedent. In many of the States, if there be any reliance in the usual sources of information, the secession party is very largely in the majority, embracing a large share of the talent and influence of these States; and while the border States will for the time being be found sustaining the Union and the Constitution; yet, it is exceedingly questionable whether in the event of a rupture, a common interest would not speedily unite all the Southern States in what would be regarded as an issue upon the question of slavery.
Of the results of such a contest it is hardly possible to form an adequate conception. Under the most favorable circumstances we can calculate upon nothing less than a literal destruction of all our industrial interests; a financial panic such as was never before known; a loss of confidence in all classes of securities; repudiation of indebtedness and universal bankruptcy. We shall have made a happy escape if in addition to all this we are not plunged in a civil war, which must in the nature of things be characterized by scenes of misery and ruin, horrible to contemplate. With such a condition of things it well becomes us calmly to survey the field—to see and acknowledge our errors, and strive by conciliation, and acts of justice, to calm the troubled waters, and avert the impending blow.
We must not expect to find the wrong all on one side, but direct attention to the mote in our own eye, as well as to the beam in that of our neighbors. There are certain land marks that have been lost sight of, and as a consequence our noble vessel has drifted far out of the established channel. Prominent among these is the constitutional requirement for the rendition of fugitives. Stubborn facts, oft repeated, should force from the North the admission that they have come far short of their duty in this regard. Not only has every subterfuge been made use of to evade the plain provisions of law, but in numerous instances its ends have been defeated by the most lawless and revolutionary proceedings. And besides this, States in their sovereign capacity have declared the law null and void, and have made its enforcement a penal offence. For such proceedings we have no excuse, nor have we any reason to expect other than retaliatory measures of like character from those whose rights are thus wantonly disregarded. If we value the Union as we claim to, and deprecate the evils of disunion, we should manifest our feelings by a careful observance of the terms of the compact, by "rendering unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." Were we to exhibit good faith in the discharge of this unquestionable duty, by a repeal of the offensive and unjust State Statutes, and by rendering that prompt and efficient aid in the enforcement of Congressional enactments, which is due from every law abiding citizen, it is probable that there would be no trouble in effecting an amicable adjustment of all other sources of alienation and discord.
It is conceded by all that the question of territorial jurisdiction, so far as slavery is concerned, is a mere abstraction; one which will never effect the status of a single slave in existance,—and surely such a question is susceptible of settlement were other more important ones satisfactorily disposed of. It is manifest that all these distracting questions in and of themselves are less important than the impression that has grown out of them throughout the South, that there is a wide spread Northern hostility to their people and institutions, such an one too as will admit of no abatement until slavery shall have been overthrown, or the Union dissolved,—and if we would maintain the confederacy we must dispel that illusion. We must satisfy them that we do not seek any interferance with their domestic or local institutions; that we are willing that they alone should assume the responsibility of slavery within their respective borders, and continue it or not as to them may seem best. This is no less than the South have a right to demand, and no less than justice requires at our hands.
Under the impulse of an intense excitement it is by no means improbable that a step may be taken that will lead to results the most disastrous. The exercise of prudence, wisdom and patriotism, brought to bear at the right time, and in the right direction, may arrest the first step, which if once taken, may never be restored.
Never were the responsibilities of those holding commanding positions greater than in the present crisis. Will the venerable President of the United States acquit himself as becomes a cotemporary and successor of JACKSON? Will he emulate the example of that great man whose administration he so nobly sustained[?] If so, his last official acts will be the most glorious ones of his protracted career as a statesman. DOUGLAS, though smarting under the pangs of a Waterloo defeat has spoken, and has acquitted himself nobly. He invokes his friends to rally as one man around the standard of the Union. There is yet another distinguished statesman, a representative of one of Kentucky's noblest families, who will prove untrue to the name of BRECKINRIDGE if he does not, in this critical hour raise his clarion voice for his country. There are hundreds of others whose council and influence would tend largely to allay the storm that menaces us. May they all prove themselves worthy the position they hold in the country's esteem.