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people sincerely hope that some plan will yet be devised to heal up the dissensions." 1 And though a militia company could seize the revenue - cutter General Cass, January 13, and the collector of the customs arrange, January 18, that the other (the McClelland) should be held, the majority for secessionist candidates in New Orleans was but three hundred in a vote of eight thousand, which itself was little more than half the entire vote of the city.2
Most significant of all is the fact that in no state of the seven was the question submitted to the people except in Texas. Here the convention was revolutionary, called as it was by 61 individuals, and not by any constituted authority. Nearly half the 122 counties held no election, and in others an absurdly small minority voted. The ordinance of secession was passed in the convention by 166 to 7, but when submitted to the people 11,235 of the 46,029 votes cast were against it, and only about three-fourths of the usual state vote was cast.3
To endeavor to find and detail the concrete grievances which moved the South, with the exception of northern action in the fugitive-slave law, is now a thankless effort. They did not exist; they were
1 Am. Annual Cyclop., 1861, p. 428.
2 Richmond Whig, February 5, quoted by Rhodes, United States, III., 274
3 Am. Annual Cyclop., 1861, pp. 688, 689.
the intangible but no less powerful grievances of sentiment, which found much sympathy even in the North. Franklin Pierce could write, November 23, 1860, “when you ask me to interpose, then there comes this paralyzing fact that if I were in their places, after so many years of unrelenting aggression, I should probably be doing what they are doing." The whole was summed in a phrase by Jefferson Davis, "I believe that a sectional hostility has been substituted for a general fraternity." Men in Congress could not look into one another's eyes with hate for an indefinite period without coming to blows! There were many northern men who hated slavery and said so. They accused the southern members of supporting an accursed institution. The whole North, one may say the whole world, moved largely by Mrs. Stowe's book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, had wept itself into a sympathy for the slave which placed the South in moral stocks for the jeering of mankind. It was not in human nature for the latter, believing as it did that it was morally, politically, and economically in the right, to submit calmly to such an ordeal. It is but a waste of words to seek further; the subject may be fitly closed by the remark of another distinguished secessionist of the period, which equally with that of Jefferson Davis, just
1 Am. Hist. Rev., X., 365 (the letter was never sent); cf. The Pine Street" Resolutions, New York, November, 1860, in Dix, Dix, I., 359, 360. 1 Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 2 Sess., 29.
quoted, completely covers the field. "I look upon it .. as a war of sentiment and opinion by one form of society against another form of society." 1 The violence of sentiment and opinion had not yet spread from the few to the people; but in the South those "few" were the directing forces.
For throughout the South the movement at first was, in the main, one of the politicians and not of the people. It was impossible that the general mass, densely ignorant, very ill-informed, with no direct interest in slavery extension, should be willing to go to war for a constitutional abstraction. Even in South Carolina a newspaper, later a strong advocate of secession, could print, June 6, 1860, a letter signed by "A Plain Man." "Is there any one desiring to remove to any of the territories and is afraid to go there, and through fear of losing his slaves, asking for protection? No. Is there any of the territories where slave property can be used advantageously, where we are prohibited by Congressional or territorial laws from going? No. ... Then why are the people, as politicians now call themselves, now demanding of Congress a slave code or 'protection' in the territories? . . . What right is even threatened by the General Government, that we of the South have at this time? None. Does not [the repeal of the Missouri Compromise] make us better off so far as principle and
1 Mason, of Virginia, in his speech, December 10, 1860, Cong. Globe, 36 Cong., 2 Sess., 35.
honor are concerned? Yes. Then what is all this fuss in the democratic party about? I don't know unless there are not offices enough for all. . . . Men who don't want office in the South had better look closely, or they will soon see sights-now mark me.'
That the movement soon became a popular one is certain, but the extent of the domination of the politicians and the wide-spread ignorance of the people, the ease with which the feelings of an ignorant and impressionable population can be played upon, the willingness of men to have arms put into their hands to resent an injury or a supposed injury, the ennui of southern life, which caused a craving for excitement of any sort, can easily account for the readiness of the southern population, the step of secession once taken, to enroll itself in the military service of their states. It is impossible to think that extreme action was forced upon the leaders by a wave of popular sentiment; the great vote throughout the South for Bell; for the "Constitution, the Union and the enforcement of the laws" is an explicit denial of such an overpowering senti
1 Edgefield (S. C.) Advertiser, June 6, 1860.
BUCHANAN'S ATTITUDE TOWARDS SECESSION (NOVEMBER-DECEMBER, 1860)
UCHANAN was in a large degree the victim of vicious intimate surroundings. Only three of the cabinet had well-defined Unionist opinions: Cass, the secretary of state; Black, the attorneygeneral; and Holt, the postmaster-general. Toucey, secretary of the navy, was colorless and without weight; Cobb, secretary of the treasury, and Thompson, secretary of the interior, were thoroughgoing secessionists; Floyd, the secretary of war, thought secession unwise, but recognized the right of a state to secede, and was thoroughly opposed to the use of force to restrain such action. His situation and views were complicated by very serious malfeasance in respect to the war department contracts, which did much towards determining his final action.' And that his intent was traitorous is shown by his own statement as to the transfer south of large quantities of arms in anticipation of the coming conflict,' and
1 Curtis, Buchanan, II., 407.
2 N. Y. Herald, January 17, 1861; cf. Reuben Davis, Recollections of Miss., 395.