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never doubted for a moment, that as the white and black races now live together in the southern states, it is an indispensable institution for them both.” 1 This, coming from one who had made an eloquent plea for emancipation in the Virginia Legislature in 1832, and who "had acquired a national reputation by his ardent patriotism, his broad and statesmanlike views in pleading for the best interests of his own commonwealth," " marks a change in southern sentiment regarding manumission. If a wise conservative could utter such an opinion, the notion of freedom through purchase was hopeless.
The abolition societies had their apogee before 1840. The explosive elements which they included brought dissensions among themselves which became fatal to their influence as organizations. Amos A. Phelps, "one of the earliest and ablest of the writers, orators and organizers of the antislavery movement," in resigning his membership, in 1839, of its board of managers, said, "The society is no longer an anti-slavery society simply, but in its principles and modes of action has become a women's rights, non-government, anti-slavery society." "At this time," says Wilson (than whom there can be no authority more favorable to the abolitionists), "there were probably two thousand societies in the country, containing, it was esti
mated, some two hundred thousand members. They had, however, already attained their maximum of numbers and influence, and had accomplished the largest share of their peculiar work. Afterward their numbers and distinctive labors were diminished rather than increased." 1
More effective than anything else in rousing antisouthern feeling in the North (using this phrase as distinct from anti-slavery sentiment) was the struggle in Congress in 1835 over the acceptance of antislavery literature in the mails, and the continuance, for several years thereafter, of bitter debate on the question of anti-slavery petitions: the existence of an institution which could not even permit discussion in the press, once realized by the northern public, doomed that institution. The unwise vituperation of so many of the southern papers; their asking the impossible; their inability to see that the attempt to stifle discussion was revolution, and that the denial of the right of petition or the suppression, of petitions was touching a right dear to all free people, gave the impetus to a new sentiment which slowly came over the North, and which in its beginnings was against southern ideals and action, against the arrogant and dictatorial tone of southern public men and the insult and abuse in the southern journals, rather than against slavery as a thing not to be tolerated.
The general acquiescence in the compromise of 1 Wilson, Slave Power, I., 422:
1850, despite sporadic disunion movements in the South, shows how strong was the Unionist feeling. Had not the South committed the folly of forcing the passage of a new fugitive - slave law unnecessarily severe and unfair, and had not the KansasNebraska bill been brought forward in 1854, it is not unsonable to suppose that the status of good feeling would have indefinitely extended itself, and much would have been settled by natural causes. There was a lull of political strife in the South which brought to silence the agitators of the Quitman and Yancey type; the country was prosperous and content in general, except for sporadic cases of violent opposition to the execution of the fugitive - slave law, but even these were apparently diminishing. Seemingly, the disunionism of 1850 was buried in the overwhelming victory which brought Pierce to the presidency, the Democratic party to a dominancy more complete than ever before, and the Whigs to annihilation.
Much as Douglas has been blamed, both for act and motive, in rousing the country from its calm by bringing forward squatter sovereignty in the Kansas-Nebraska act, and in being the instrument for abolishing the Missouri Compromise, despite his earlier views of the sacred character of the compromise of 1820, he was but yielding to an unconscious pressure which he could not resist. He "rode the whirlwind" but did not "direct the storm.' Though he averred that the bill was all his own, he
was acting under a sub-conscious southern pressure felt by his quick soul to be as actual, as mandatory, and as necessary to Democratic success as if specifically formulated by the party caucus. He little foresaw that the gloss he put upon this was to be the disruption of the Democratic party and his own ruin. The Kansas-Nebraska bill, supplemented by the emotions which overran the country under the influence of Uncle Tom's Cabin, a book which drew with irresistible power a picture of slavery which outside the South was accepted the world over as true of the whole, gave new force to the resistance to the fugitive-slave law and swept the North into an opposition which culminated in the formation of the Republican party, developed from abstract antagonism into concrete civil war in Kansas, and, in the election of 1856, reared a spectre, the mere apprehension of which, to the South, was to end in secession. The dictum of the supreme court in the Dred-Scott case, the decision in which was given out but two days after Buchanan's inauguration, gave the final blow to northern patience in the slavery question.
There still, in 1859, remained over eight hundred thousand square miles in territories, enough, measured by mere area, to make eighteen states of the size of New York or Pennsylvania, but which, as pointed out elsewhere, even Davis, to whom the mantle of Calhoun had fallen, acknowledged was unfitted for slavery.
The contention of the South was thus a violation of every principle of logic and in the face of the great fact that European emigration must naturally overwhelm slave labor in regions in which land was sold so cheap. Nearly three and a half millions of immigrants arrived in the years 1848-1858,1 a number within half a million of the total number of slaves in the Union; and it was impossible that any southern migration could compete with this, particularly as it was not the well-to-do owner of slaves who would attempt to establish himself in a new and, to the southerner, inhospitable region, in which, even on his own theory, slavery might be abolished when the territory became a state.
The bloody story of Kansas; the formation of emigration societies North and South, but in much greater numbers in the North; the arming of the emigrants; the development of a minor civil war, is told elsewhere in these volumes. It was but a phase of the extension and development of two civilizations antagonistic in every fibre of their nature; a struggle between the men who desired an opportunity to work with their own hands and those who thought it right to own and use an inferior race to do the labor which they directed.
Nothing in the history of the subject presents a more curious psychological problem than the action at this period of the statesmen of the South in their
1 3,416,923. U.S. Eighth Census (1860), Preliminary Report, 13 'Smith, Parties and Slavery (Am. Nation, XVIII.).