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majority against him. . . . In the Senate he will also be powerless. Why, then, I say, should we disrupt the ties of this Union, when his hands are tied --when he can do nothing against us?''1



Stephens was the ablest, wisest, and most farseeing man of the South. While strongly pro-slavery, he was not blind to the abyss into which so many of his fellow-statesmen of his section seemed bent upon rushing. He had long foretold the war, and could say in 1850, in a letter to his brother: "My opinion is that a dismemberment of this Republic is not among the improbabilities of a few years to come. In all my acts I shall look to that event. I shall do nothing to favor it or hasten it, but I now consider it inevitable." The testimony of no man respecting the true trend of sentiment in the South is more valuable. It indicates that the feeling of the mass was not, before the election, absolutely disunionist; it was a feeling of general ill-will towards the North which came to be played upon by the leaders until it developed into a catching, sympathetic, emotional movement, before which reason vanished. A few more men of Stephens's type and ability might have turned the tide; but in the lower South he stood alone in his class. Having the general respect of North and South, his Milledgeville speech had wide circulation and effect. Great numbers of approving letters came from the North, and


Stephens, War between the States, II., 279–283.

2 Johnston and Browne, Stephens, 244.

a note was received from Lincoln, dated November 30, asking for a revised copy. Stephens's reply brought three weeks later one of the few letters which at this period Lincoln wrote. It was dated December 22, and asked, "Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with the slaves, or with them about the slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not any an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears."1


The effect produced in the state by Stephens's speech of November 14 "was a general impression that it had given the quietus to secession in Georgia," but Stephens himself was not deceived in the trend of affairs. He could write, but two weeks later (November 30): "I am daily becoming more and more confirmed in the opinion that all efforts to save the Union will be unavailing. The truth is, our leaders and public men do not desire to continue it on any terms. They do not wish any redress of wrongs; they are disunionists per se, and avail themselves of present circumstances to press their objects"; and December 3: "I fear . . . that it is too late to do anything; that the people are run mad. They are wild with passion and frenzy, doing they know not what."a

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1 1 Lincoln, Works (ed. of 1894), I., 660; Stephens, War between the States, II., 266, 267 (facsimile).

2 Johnston and Browne, Stephens, 367.

• Ibid., 369, 370.

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How Georgia wavered, how strong was the Union sentiment of the state, is told at length by Stephens; the wavering scale "was turned by a sentiment, the key note to which" was uttered by T. R. R. Cobb, in a speech before the legislature, November 12: "We can make better terms out of the Union than in it." An idea upon which two-thirds of those who voted for secession acted.1


In Alabama, the conservative forces were overturned through the unfortunate action of the legislature in January, 1860, when an act was passed on the heels of the instructions to the delegates to the Charleston convention to withdraw in certain contingencies, requiring the governor, after he should have ascertained the election of a "so-called Republican" to the presidency, to call a convention to meet within forty days; the act also directed the reorganization of the militia and included a vote of two hundred thousand dollars for "military contingencies." " But after the election a strong Union sentiment showed itself; "the secessionists were anxious, Unionists suddenly cropped out everywhere." A meeting of prominent secessionists promptly assembled at Montgomery to consider the duty of the governor" in regard to the resolution of January, and the latter decided that he would call the convention two days after the votes had been cast in the electoral college, and that it should


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meet January 7, 1861. Jemison, who had led the legislature to pass the resolution requiring the withdrawal from the Charleston convention, was now "an unconditional Unionist," and the members of this party entered the contest with a real recognition of its philosophy. They held that "the day of small governments had passed. . . . If secession succeeds the road to success will require the sacrifice of slavery: if secession fails, anarchy will follow." 1 But Yancey ruled in Alabama by perfervid oratory, much as Calhoun, in South Carolina, by logic. His answer to co-operationists, at a meeting the evening after the presidential election, was: "In the contingency that consultation shall not produce concert, what then? . . . Shall we remain and all be slaves? Shall we wait to bear our share of the common dishonor? God forbid! Let us act for ourselves. I have good reason to believe the action of any state will be peaceable, will not be resisted under the present or any future administration of public affairs. I believe that there will not be power to direct a gun against a sovereign state. Certainly there will be no will to do so during the present administration." " The incendiary, he practically said, need fear no punishment. It is not strange that appeals to passion, with the assurance that no harm could befall, should have their effect.


The feeling between the Unionists and secessionists, when the Alabama convention came together, * Ibid., 539.

1 Du Bose, Yancey, 547–549.


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January 7, was extreme, and Yancey threatened coercion against the men of the northern part of the state. The prospect of a slave-state convention and a basis of settlement with the North was voted down, by a majority of 10 in a total of 99. "It is touching to read the expressions of regret, of doubt, of protest, with which the opposition members gave in their adhesion" to the final parting.

In Mississippi there was yet a strong Union sentiment, but all gave way before the impulse of the aggressive action of the leaders. An evidently trustworthy correspondent could say, January 2, 1861: "Our country is dying and the people are doing nothing either to accelerate or prevent the death.

The convention to assemble Monday next will present an almost undivided front in favor of prompt secession, the people have had but small agency in the movement. In many, perhaps in most of the counties, but a meagre vote has been polled. The people seem stupified, and those who move at all move in obedience to the voice of the extreme leaders." 3

Though "unbounded enthusiasm" was shown at a New Orleans meeting over the secession of South Carolina, a hundred guns fired and the Pelican flag unfurled, an eminent citizen of Louisiana could say, "I think ninety-nine out of every hundred of the

1 Smith, Debates of Ala. Convention, 68–74.

2 Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, III., 188.

• National Intelligencer, January 12.

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