The Union, It Must Be Preserved

Springfield Daily Illinois State Journal, December 20, 1860

There are not a few who seem to think that the Union will be dissolved whenever the South Carolina Secession Convention passes a resolution to that effect. The Union cannot be dissolved by the passage of resolutions. South Carolina may resolve that she is no longer a part of this Union. She may hold secession meetings, mount disunion cockades, plant palmetto trees, make palmetto flags, trample under foot the glorious flag of our country, and proclaim from the housetops her treason and her shame, but all this will not dissolve the Union. She may compel her citizens to resign official place held under the Federal Government—she may close her courts and post offices, and put her own people to a great deal of inconvenience and trouble, but she will still be in the Union, unmolested. She cannot get out of this Union until she conquers this Government. The revenues must and will be collected at her ports, and any resistance on her part will lead to war. At the close of that war we can tell with certainty whether she [is] in or out of the Union. While this Government endures there can be no disunion. If South Carolina does not obstruct the collection of the revenue at her ports nor violate any other Federal law, there will be no trouble, and she will not be out of the Union. If she violates the laws, then comes the tug of war. The President of the United States, in such an emergency, has a plain duty to perform. Buchanan may shirk it, or the emergency may not exist during his administration. If not, then the Union will last through his term of office. If the overt act, on the part of South Carolina takes place on, or after the 1st of March, 1861, then the duty of executing the laws will devolve upon Mr. Lincoln. The laws of the United States must be executed—the President has no discretionary power on the subject—his duty is emphatically pronounced in the Constitution. Mr. Lincoln will perform that duty. Disunion, by armed force, is TREASON, and treason must and will be put down at all hazards. This Union is not, will not, and cannot be dissolved until this Government is overthrown by the traitors who have raised the disunion flag. Can they overthrow it? We think not. "They may disturb its peace—they may interrupt the course of its prosperity—they may cloud its reputation for stability—but its tranquil[l]ity will be restored, its prosperity will return, and the stain upon its National character will be transferred and remain an eternal blot on the memory of those who caused the disorder." Let the secessionists understand it—let the press proclaim it—let it fly on the wings of the lightning, and fall like a thunder bolt among those now plotting treason in Convention, that the Republican party, that the great North, aided by hundreds of thousands of patriotic men in the slave States, have determined to preserve the Union—peaceably if they can, forcibly if they must.