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have been, not controverted as a right, but prevented as a fact.
The second reflection that forces itself upon us is that Disruption-so much deplored, which has come upon the world as a surprise, and upon the Northern Americans as an amazement and an almost ideal horror-was always natural and inevitable, and has long been imminent. Washington foreboded it in the far distance, and turned away his face in pain and sorrow. Tocqueville foresaw it, speculated on its mode, and distinctly indicated its causes. He saw that the enormous extent of the country, to which settlement and conquest were yearly adding, precluded its being ruled otherwise than as a loosely-knitted Federation, which the weakness of the Central Government, and the strength of the State Governments—and still more the growing weakness of the one, and the growing strength of the other—were insensibly severing year by year so rapidly and so decisively, that the first serious collision of interest or temper must infallibly entail a severance; and that a severance must be attended with so many sources of bitterness and soreness as most probably to bring with it actual hostilities, and to leave behind it savage enmities. This, too, was before slavery became the prominent topic it has been of late. Indeed, it seems wonderful how any dispassionate and close observer, who looked at the United States from the outside, could hesitate to pronounce disruption to be, not only the fate, but the euthanasia of the unwieldy and unprecedented Commonwealth. Every thing is changed since the days of 1789, when the Federation was first definitively formed. Severance seems as much dictated by circumstances now as union was dictated by circumstances then. The United States were then thirteen in number, they are thirty-three now. Their area was then 820,000 square miles, it is 2,960,000 now. Their population was 4,000,000 then, it is 32,000,000 now. Their territory was then little more than a broad slip along the Atlantic seaboard, every State, with the exception of Vermont, having a frontage on the ocean. Their territory now extends over 55 degrees of longitude and 21 of latitude, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Maine to California, from the St. Lawrence to the Gulf of Mexico, from the tropic of Cancer to the frozen fogs of Nova Scotia. The staple article of one province is ice; the staples of another are cotton and sugar. How should the garment that suited one age and one magnitude suit an age and a magnitude so utterly transformed ? How can the lumberers of Maine combine in a government with the gold-diggers of California, especially across a desert inhabited by thriving Mormons, who already claim a seat in Congress and a contingent inheritance of the presidential chair? How are the stiff Puritan of Massachusetts and the fiery French Creole of New Orleans to harmonise in one Cabinet and one Congress ?
But this is not all. Even in the days of Washington there were inherent differences of origin, character, and temper between the Northern and the Southern provinces. Their people came, indeed, from one country, but they came from very different classes, and colonised under widely diverse circumstances and from widely alien motives. Pilgrim Fathers colonised the North, gallant and greedy adventurers settled in the South. The first sought religious freedom, the second sought golden wealth. The former were Nonconformists, Roundheads, Republicans by temper, by capacity, by antecedents: the latter were Cavaliers, Churchmen, sometimes noble gentlemen, often scamps and scapegraces, occasionally downright buccaneers. Accident, mutual interests, mutual services, mutual passions, united them into one federation—never blended them into one people. Year by year, generation by generation, the discrepancies between them have been growing greater, and the incongruities and discomforts of the connection have been more clearly perceived and more strongly felt. Other elements of difference, too, have been introduced. The purchase of Louisiana has brought a large French, or bastard French, population into the citizenship of the South; the Irish immigration has brought a still larger, if not more questionable, Celtic population to taint the citizenship of the North. Hundreds of thousands of Germans, too, who resemble neither of the English sections of the original inhabitants, have become naturalised throughout the country. Swarms of them have stayed in Pennsylvania, swarms have gone to Texas, swarms have located themselves in the backwoods. Altogether we may estimate that the number of Americans of foreign birth or descent in the United States exceeds the number of citizens of Anglo-Saxon origin existing there when America first became a nation. The approach to homogeneousness, therefore, which existed in the days of Washington and Franklin has ever since been in process of obliteration; and the characteristics which all classes of Americans undoubtedly still have in common are not those which they would wish to be considered as national distinctions.
But even these do not exhaust all, or even the chief, influences which rendered the continuance of the Union precarious, and its permanence all but impossible. When the Constitution of 1789 was framed, slavery was a misfortune, a disgrace to be slurred over and hushed up, a social embarrassment much to be deprecated and as soon as practicable to be got rid of. This was the consentaneous feeling of all, whether Northerners or Southerners. Slavery is now in the eyes of the South a "cherished institution,” a “sacred right," an undeniable « blessing," as well as an incurable and ineradicable fact. In the eyes of the North--at least of a powerful, energetic, and out-spoken party in the North—it is a blunder, a mischief, a heinous crime, and a terrible disgrace. It is a national sin and peril, to be cleared away at all hazards. Even those Northerners who are not Abolitionists feel that, indirectly at least, slavery has lain at the root of most of their political difficulties and quarrels, and they hate the institution almost as much as they hate the Negro. In 1789, moreover, while nearly every State was slaveholding, and therefore neither could nor was inclined to cast stones at one another, the slaves were only 500,000 in number, and were believed or hoped to be dying out. Now they are 4,000,000, and are known to be increasing, in despite of hard work and harsh treatment, as fast as the prosperous and self-indulgent whites. No one can shut their eyes to the fact. No one can propose a solution of the problem. Now, how can men and States, who regard such a fact in such diametrically opposite light (socially, morally, and politically), act harmoniously or sit amicably in the same council-chamber? How can they continue to direct in unison the affairs of a common country? How can statesmen who dread extension to the South as an evil and a danger of the greatest magnitude pull together, either in internal or international crises, with planters who push this extension as a necessity, and demand it as a right? How can men who wish exclusively to multiply free States, and men who wish exclusively to multiply slave States, continue members of one Senate or House of Representatives except for the purpose of thwarting, counter-working, and baffling each other? Will not “Secession” for such indicate and involve less hostility than “Union”?
The next point which seems to us so manifest that it is hard to understand why it is not recognised by the Americans themselves, is, that though the North has every reason to complain of the conduct of the Secessionists, yet it has no reason to regret the secession. Nothing could be more shameful than the mode ; nothing ought to have been more welcome than the fact. The behaviour of the Southern politicians richly merits all the invective that has been lavished on it. It was unreasonable, it was overbearing, it was insolent, traitorous, and dishonourable. They had no real grievance,-except that the supremacy had passed out of their hands. They were outnumbered and outvoted—that was all. The game went against them, so they threw up their cards and kicked over the table. They had lost a contested election for the first time in a generation, and their domineering temper could not submit to a defeat. They had so little true appreciation of the reciprocal obligations of citizenship, so little conception of the qualities needed for constitutional liberty, that they could accept the decision of universal suffrage only as long as it was given in their favour. They would remain in the Union only on condition of directing its policy and monopolising its spoils. Beaten in argument and by the ballot-box, they “descended into the streets,” according to Gallican phrase and practice. They acted, not like freemen, but like Frenchmen. This we believe to be the strict truth. Their clamours about the interference of the North with their “cherished institution” were simply false and groundless. The Northern States had gone much further in unworthy tenderness to that institution than either policy or morality could sanction. They had stooped to accept the Fugitive-Slave Law,-shameful and oppressive as it was,—and had only modified its action by the Personal-Liberty Laws, so far as experience had shown to be necessary for the protection of their own citizens. They had submitted to the dishonest and forcible nullification of the Missouri Compromise. The North as a whole had never countenanced Abolitionists; on the contrary, out of deference to Southern violence, prejudice, and terror, it had often persecuted and suppressed them with little regard for their indefeasible liberty of speech and action. Mr. Lincoln's election was nothing more than a declaration that, in reference to the long controverted point as to the preliminary extension of slavery into new territories,-a matter which no one could deny to be fairly open to discussion and to Federal decision, the majority of American citizens had at length decided against the wishes of the South. In seceding on such a ground, therefore, there can be no doubt that the slave-holding States showed themselves ignorant or regardless of the first principles and obligations of constitutional law and justice.
The mode, too, in which they carried out their secession was as unwarrantable and irritating as possible. They had long had possession of the Federal Government; previous contests had given them the presidential chair, all the ministerial portfolios, all offices worth having throughout the country,-in a word, all the loaves and fishes of the State. Ever since the near-run contest of 1856, which warned them that the next presidential election must go against them, they deliberately and treacherously employed all the resources of their official position to prepare the way for their meditated stroke. Mr. Buchanan apparently, his Secretaries of State certainly, used the powers committed to them by the Union to undermine the Union. Secretly and systematically they did all that their position of authority and trust enabled them to do to facilitate their own treason, and to paralyse the hands of their successors. They took care that Mr. Lincoln, when he
reached the White House, should find the treasury empty, the arsenals disarmed or under the control of his enemies, and all important posts and strongholds in hostile hands. When the decisive moment came, they proposed no amicable separation, they offered no reasonable terms, they asked for no convention to arrange the division of the national possessions; they at once proclaimed themselves independent, and seized the Federal property as if it were theirs by right. The Northerners were stunned; they felt themselves deceived, outraged, and betrayed, but for some time could not believe in the reality of the intention or the seriousness of the blow. They assumed an attitude of patient forbearance. They proposed compromise after compromise,-each one going to the very verge of unconditional surrender. But the seceders would listen to no terms of accommodation ; they did not wish for any; they were bent upon severance, not upon reconciliation; they almost resented the suggestion of reunion, and proceeded on their course with a wilful, dogged, rapid pertinacity, which showed how predetermined it had been. At length they attacked and took Fort Sumter; and then at last the North was roused, and prepared with sore and fierce indignation for the conflict forced upon them.
Their unanimous anger and their bitter sense of wrong, therefore, are sentiments perfectly natural and legitimate. But these are not the only sentiments they ought to feel; nor are they wise, according to the best judgment we can form on the subject, in allowing even these sentiments to hurry them into hostilities. We are sure they cannot compel the South to come back into the Union, and we are equally sure that they ought not if they could. On the contrary, we see more than one reason why they should rejoice at the catastrophe. Secession has at once relieved them from a terrible embarrassment, a great obloquy, an ominous, gigantic, ever-growing danger. Whyinstead of returning thanks to God for a mighty deliveranceshould they be so anxious to buy back the crying shame, to bind again upon their shoulders the crushing burden, to recover the averted peril, to replace themselves once more under the black cloud that darkened to the prophetic eye all the grand promise of their future ?--and to do all this at the cost of a sanguinary internecine strife. What Northern statesman of foresight and feeling has not deprecated and dreaded for a generation the inexorable Nemesis of slavery ? has not prayed to have that weight lifted from his soul, that eternal menace averted from his country, that insoluble problem taken out of his hands ? Ever since he entered public life, slavery has compelled him to enact and execute laws which he abhorred, to acquiesce in a policy which he condemned, to submit to a domination which he felt to be at