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sore" which "the enlightenment and patriotism of their successors "would "heal" to the opinion that regarded "the social system founded upon slavery as the highest state of perfection that modern civilization had reached," he thus sets forth his estimate of Southern society as it existed at the opening of the Rebellion: "In proportion as slavery thus increased in prosperity and power, its influence became more and more preponderant in the community which had adopted it. Like a parasitical plant, which, drawing to itself all the sap of the most vigorous tree, covers it gradually with a foreign verdure and poisonous fruits, so slavery was impairing the morals of the South, and the spirit of her institutions. The form of liberty existed, the press seemed to be free, the deliberations of legislative bodies were tumultuous, and every man boasted of his independence. But the spirit of true liberty, tolerance towards the minority and respect for individual opinion, had departed, and those deceitful appearances concealed the despotism of an inexorable master, slavery,— a master before whom the most powerful of slaveholders was himself but a slave, as abject as the meanest of his laborers.
"No one had a right to question its legitimacy, and like the Eumenides, which the ancients feared to offend by naming them, so wherever the Slave Power was in the ascendant, people did not even dare to mention its name, for fear of touching upon too dangerous a subject. It was on this condi tion only that such an institution could maintain itself in a prosperous and intelligent community. It would have perished on the very day when the people should be at liberty to discuss it.
"Therefore, notwithstanding their boasted love of freedom, the people of the South did not hesitate to commit any violence in order to crush out, in its incipiency, any attempt to discuss the subject. Any one who had ventured to cast the slightest reflection upon the slavery system could not have continued to live in the South; it was sufficient to point the finger at any stranger and call him an Abolitionist, to consign him at once to the fury of the populace."
Dwelling at some length upon the plantation system and
"the inconveniences felt in a region of country yet half wild," with a mention of some of the incidents and contingencies attending the working of "their large domains" by servile labor, he noted the division of Southern society into three classes," at the foot of the ladder the negro bowed down upon the soil he had to cultivate; . . . . at the top the masters, in the midst of an entirely servile population, more intelligent than educated, brave but irascible, proud but overbearing, eloquent but intolerant, devoting themselves to public affairs the exclusive direction of which belonged to them with all the ardor of their temperament.
But the more their pov
"The third class that of common whites, the most important on account of its numbers-occupied a position below the second, and far above the first, without, however, forming an intermediate link between them, for it was deeply imbued with all the prejudices of color. This was the plebs romana, the crowds of clients who parade with ostentation the title of citizen, and only exercise its privileges in blind subserviency to the great slaveholders, who were the real masters of the country. If slavery had not existed in their midst, they would have been workers and tillers of the soil, and might have become farmers and small proprietors. erty draws them nearer to the inferior class of slaves, the more anxious are they to keep apart from them, and they spurn work in order to set off more ostentatiously their quality of freemen. This unclassified population, wretched and restless, supplied Southern policy with the fighting vanguard which preceded the planter's invasion of the West with his slaves. At the beginning of the war the North believed that this class would join her in condemnation of the servile institution, whose ruinous competition it ought to have detested. But the North was mistaken in thinking that reason would overcome its prejudices. It showed, on the contrary, that it was ardently devoted to the maintenance of slavery. Its pride was even more at stake than that of the great slaveholders; for while the latter were always sure of remaining in a position. far above the freed negroes, the former feared lest their emancipation should disgrace the middle white classes by raising the blacks to their level."
Without the adduction of other particulars, or the recog nition of other elements, these make the improbability of the results now under consideration seem less than they would otherwise appear. For certainly it is sufficiently obvious that a society made up of such materials could not but present an inviting field for the machinations of the shrewd, unscrupulous, and designing. With ignorance so profound, with prejudices so unreasoning, and with passions so inflammable, it was not difficult to hoodwink and commit such people to purposes and plans not only dangerous to others but destructive to themselves. But there were other causes. There were auxiliaries that gave greatly increased potency to those elements of mischief. There were combination and careful and longconsidered preparation. Indeed, division of labor and assignment of parts have seldom been more carefully attended to. "Each man," says the Comte, "had his part laid out. Some, delegated by their own States, constantly visited the neighboring States in order to secure that unanimity to the movement which was to constitute its strength; others were endeavoring to win over the powerful border States, such as Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri, as well as North Carolina and Tennessee, which stood aghast, terrified at the approach of the crisis brought on by their associates; some, again, were even pleading their cause in the North, in the hope of recruiting partisans among those Democrats whom they had forsaken at the last election; while others kept their seats in Congress in order to be able to paralyze its action; forming, at the same time, a centre whence they issued directions to their friends in the South to complete the dismemberment of the Republic. Jefferson Davis himself continued to take part in the deliberations of the Senate."
Corroborative of the above, and at the same time indicative of the actual method adopted by the conspirators, is the fol lowing letter which appeared in the "National Intelligencer," at Washington on the morning of January 11, 1861. It is introduced by the editor, with the remark that it was from "a distinguished citizen of the South who formerly represented his State with great distinction in the popular branch of Con
gress." It has since transpired that the writer was the Hon. L. D. Evans of Texas, formerly a member of the XXXIVth Congress, and subsequently a judge of the Supreme Court of his adopted State. A native of Tennessee and long resident in Texas, he ever remained true to the Union, and not only advised but encouraged and supported Governor Houston to resist the clamors of the revolutionists in their demands for an extra session of the legislature. Though overborne in this and compelled to leave the State, he rendered essential service to the Union cause and the administration of Mr. Lincoln. He writes:
"I charge that on last Saturday night a caucus was held in this city by the Southern secession Senators from Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas. It was then and there resolved in effect to assume to themselves the political power of the South and the control of all political and military operations for the present. They telegraphed to complete the plan of seizing forts, arsenals, and customhouses, and advised the conventions now in session, and soon to assemble, to pass ordinances for immediate secession; but, in order to thwart any operations of the government here, the conventions of the seceding States are to retain their representatives in the Senate and the House.
"They also advised, ordered, or directed the assembling of a convention of delegates from the seceding States at Montgomery on the 4th of February. This can of course only be done by the revolutionary conventions usurping the powers of the people, and sending delegates over whom they will lose all control in the establishment of a provisional government, which is the plan of the dictators.
"This caucus also resolved to take the most effectual means to dragoon the legislatures of Tennessee, Kentucky, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, and Virginia into following the seceding States.
"Maryland is also to be influenced by such appeals to popular passion as have led to the revolutionary steps which promise a conflict with the State and Federal governments in Texas. They have possessed themselves of all the avenues of infor
mation in the South, the telegraph, the press, and the general control of the postmasters. They also confidently rely upon defections in the army and navy.
"The spectacle here presented is startling to contemplate. Senators intrusted with the representative sovereignty of the States, and sworn to support the Constitution of the United States, while yet acting as the privy counsellors of the Presi dent, and anxiously looked to by their constituents to effect some practical plan of adjustment, deliberately conceive a conspiracy for the overthrow of the government through the military organizations, the dangerous secret order, the Knights of the Golden Circle, 'Committees of Safety,' Southern leagues, and other agencies at their command; they have instituted as thorough a military and civil despotism as ever cursed a maddened country.
"It is not difficult to foresee the form of government which a convention thus hurriedly thrown together at Montgomery will irrevocably fasten upon a deluded and unsuspecting people. It must essentially be a monarchy founded upon military principles' or it cannot endure. Those who usurp power never fail to forge strong chains. It may be too late to sound the alarm. Nothing may be able to arrest the action of revolutionary tribunals whose decrees are principally in 'secret sessions.' But I call upon the people to pause and reflect before they are forced to surrender every principle of liberty, or to fight those who are becoming their masters rather than their servants."
Abundant corroboration of these statements has since been found, revealing the fact of such a meeting and its action. Among the proofs is a letter, written by Senator Yulee, one of the conspirators, and found in Florida after the capture of Fernandina, giving an account of the meeting and its purposes, among which, as he expresses it, was the thought, that by retaining their seats in Congress, "we can keep the hands of Mr. Buchanan tied, and disable the Republicans from effecting any legislation which will strengthen the hands of the incoming administration."
The next morning Mr. Wilson met Mr. Evans, and, sur