Slike strani
PDF
ePub

Each decennial census, each new apportionment of members of Congress, in spite of the advantage of the representation of their negroes, had witnessed the gradual passage of political power into the free States. Against this result the slave aristocracy, conscious of their weakness and the wrong of the institution, struggled in vain. The laws of Nature and of God are not more inexorable in their operation than the law that in the race for power, freedom and free labor should outstrip slavery and slave labor. Convinced of this by the logic of the census figures, yet resolved not to yield power, determined not to give up slavery, either to man or God, the slave-holders had deliberately determined, by force and violence, by any means necessary, to extend slavery over all the territories; to seize and appropriato Cuba; to conquer and annex Mexico; and thus secure the means of extending the area of slavery, of controlling the government, and ultimately, to make the States all slave States; or, failing in these plans, to dissolve the Union, and to establish a government based upon slavery. There had long existed at the South an organized conspiracy to accomplish these purposes. They wanted more negroes; and they sought to repeal, and practically disregarded and evaded the law prohibiting the African slave trade. Cargoes of Africans were imported into the cotton States, and, although by law it was piracy, there were no prosecutions therefor. .

To an intelligent understanding of the events preceding the rebellion, and during its progress, the existence of this wide spread, thoroughly organized, secret conspiracy must be anderstood. A secret organization, known as the “Order of the Lone Star,” was well known previous to, and at the time of the annexation of Texas. Its ostensible, and one of its real objects was the acquisition of Cuba. It finally merged into a secret band of confederates, extending through several States, with the destinct and definite purpose of overthrowing the Federal Government in the slave States, and establishing a confederacy based upon slavery. The election of Mr. Lincoln was a triumph, in a direct contest, between the slave aristocracy and democracy; between the friends of slavery and those who regarded it as a great moral,

а

social and political evil, and who meant to exclude it by prohibition, from all the territories, and to use all legal and constitutional means to restrain and weaken its power. It was essentially a contest between democracy and aristocracy; between the civilization of free labor and the barbarism of slavery. In the light of to-day, it is clear that the leaders of the slave party plunged the country into war, believing they could, thereby, save the institution from the destruction threatened by the rapid and irresistible growth of the free States.

Nineteen centuries ago, upon the mountains of Judea, the great principle upon which our Republic was formed, the common Father and the universal brotherhood of man, was taught by the Son of God. This great, christian principle, the germ of liberty regulated by law, after contending against all forms of civil and religious despotism through so many centuries, was distinctly and authoritatively announced by the Fathers of the Republic, on the 4th of July, 1776, when they proclaimed, in the Declaration of Independence, “that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights,” and that “among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

Thomas Jefferson, the Virginia democrat, in the conception of that instrument, struck the key-note of christian liberty. He announced a principle antagguistie to human slavery; and in making it the basis, the toue of our political structure, hastened the "irrentessible ponflict," which triumphed at the ballot-box in 1860

Yr. Lincoln had ever, in all his pqblic addresses, in his debates with Douglas, made that declaration his platform; and he, in his personal and political character, illustrated its grand ideas. He honestly and heartily believed in it. The slave power instinctively felt that the end of slavery was a mere question of time Rather than yield, the slave aristocracy determined to “take up" the sword, and hence the terrible civil war. Slavery was the rebel, and the government, in the end, could do no less than make it an outlaw.

It was apparent that there was a party in nearly all the slave-holding States who hated the Union, and sighed for a

[ocr errors]

6

purely slave-holding confederacy. These men had for years denounced the Declaration of Independence. They were proud and aristocratic, accustomed to rule negroes at home, and to govern Congress. Jefferson Davis declared, in 1858, that in the event of the election of an abolition president, Mississippi must seek her safety outside of the Union.

The proud, overbearing aristocracy of the slave States, grown wealthy by the labor of slaves, accustomed to power, ridiculed labor, and affected great contempt for Lincoln as a laborer. They were the men who regarded the free, moral, intelligent laborers of the free States as the “mudsills" of society. They affected to believe the condition of four millions of slaves, without education, without marriage, without family, without a home, and holding chastity, lite, children, everything,at the will of a licentious overseer and master, was a better system than the educated, happy, moral, frec-labor democracies of the North, with their free schools, and churches, and families of industry, thrift, intelligence and domestic virtue. Such men scorned the idea of submitting to be governed by this “mudsill,” this “plebian,” as they called Abraham Lincoln. They rejoiced in luis clection, as furnishing an opportunity for disunion, and as a means of creating a public sentiment which would enable them to precipitate secession.

Hence his election was hailed in many slaves States with acclamations. Inmediately, when the result was known, the leading traitors sent dispatches from one slave State to another, encouraging and threatening rebellion. The Charleston Mercury said the news of Mr. Lincoln's election was hailed with long continued cheers for the Southern Confederacy. Military organizations were rapidly formed in nearly all the save States. There was scarcely a hamlet in the cotton States that had not its squad of mounted men or infantry. In cities, towns and villages, they were drilling every night, and preparing for war. spatches were sent from Virginia and other States to South Carolina, tendering volunteer soldiers and arms.

It was expected that South Carolina would take the lead, and many towns and cities sent messages, breathing the same spirit as that of Governor Perry, of Florida, to Governor Gist, of South Carolina: “Florida is with the gallant Palmetto Flag.”

On the 25th of October, a meeting had been held at the house of Senator Hammond, of South Carolina, at which the Congressional delegation of that State, Governor Gist and ex-Speaker Orr were present: it was resolved that South Carolina should secede, in the event of Mr. Lincoln's election. Meetings, in furtherance of the object, were held in Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and other slave States. In November, South Carolina authorized the immediate enrollment of 10,000 volunteers. In the same month Georgia appropriated one million of dollars to arm and equip that State. Conventions, preparatory to the adoption of ordinances of secession, were called in South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Virginia.

For years the fatal heresy had been taught by southern men, that the citizen owed his primary allegiance to his State, and not to the nation; disregarding that clause in the Constitution of the United States which declares that the Constitution and laws, made in pursuance thereof, are the supreme law of the land, anything in the laws and constitution of any State to the contrary notwithstanding. * John C. Calhoun had prostituted his great talents to the inculcation of this heresy. Hence, many honest people were deceived, and, forgetting they were citizens of the Republic, only remembered they were South Carolinjans and Virginians. This carried into the rebellion many honest and well-meaning persons.

Calhoun, who had so industriously sown the seed and nurtured the plant of secession, said, in 1812, to Commodore Charles Stewart :

It is through our affiliation with this (the Democratic) party in the middle and and western States, that we hold power. But when we cease thus to control the

. In 1865, a prominent citizen of South Carolina, coming to Washington to beg pardon for his treason, said to a mumber of the Cabinet:

"We went to war for two objects: First, To establish the perpetuity of Savery; Second, To establish the position that a state is superior to the United States."

In other words, the slave-holders went to war to perpetuate a great wrong, and to establish that a part is greater than the uhole.

pation, through a disjointed Democracy, or any material obstacle in that party, which shall tend to throw us out of the rulo and control, we shall then resort to a dissolution of the Union.

On the 7th of November, 1860, it was known throughout the Republic that Liucoln was clected. IIe could not be inaugurated until the 4th of March following. For these four eventful months the conspirators had control of the Federal government. Buchanan, a weak, imbecile, if not a treacherous, old man, was President, and he was completely controlled by the traitors in his Cabinet and the conspirators in the Senate. Mr. Memminger, of South Carolina, afterwards the rebel Secretary of the Treasury, stated that “Buchanan being President, the Federal government would be taken at great disadvantage, and that they had prepared things so that Lincoln would, for a while, be powerless." Buchanan's cabinet was (a majority of them) a cabinet of conspirators, industriously laboring to disarm and dismantle the ship of state, that they might surrender it an easy conquest to the traitors preparing to seize it. Howell Cobb, of Georgia, afterwards a rebel general, was Secretary of the Treasury, and managed to shake the credit of the nation, and leave the treasury empty.

Jacob Thompson, of Mississippi, afterwards a rebel, was Secretary of the Interior; as a member of Buchanan's cabinet, hearing that the Union garrison, starving at Fort Sumpter was to be supplied with provisions, he traitorously sent a dispatch to Charleston, advising his co-conspirators of the fact, so that the flag of his country might be fired upon, and the garrison of the government of which he was a cabinet officer, might be starved into surrender. This chivalric son of the South says:

I sent a despatch to Judge Ilongstreet, that the Star of the West was coming with re-enforcements. The State troops were then put on their guard, and when the Star of the West arrived, she received a warm reception from booming cannon, and soon beat a retreat.

John B. Floyd (the same who, at Fort Donelson, was so conscious of his guilt, that he dared not, as a rebel general, surrender to General Grant), was Secretary of War. It was important to the Confederates that the slave States should be

« PrejšnjaNaprej »