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To persons who do not hold to the Divine Right of government all this may seem superfluous, though from some of the arguments that one hears, one would think that, though the subjects of kings may revolt as they please, yet that the citizens of republics may not: in other words, free institutions are the only ones under which freedom is not to be allowed. But I believe many are to be found who, while admitting the right of the Southern States to secede, yet think them to have been wrong in exercising it. Their argument is that, though the North is committing a great crime in preventing the others from doing what they have a right to do, yet that the South is not free from blame in provoking what she must have known to be war, for a mere caprice; and that she not only provoked it, but commenced it.
Now the only way in which this argument is to be met, is by a direct contradiction of every part of it. The Southerners did not secede from caprice, but from reasons which would have justified not only a secession but a rebellion. They did not provoke the war ; for all the provocation, if that name can be applied to most unsparing threats and most virulent abuse for a long term of years, came from the Northern Abolitionists. They did not commence it; for the first act of war was Lincoln's perfidious attempt to throw supplies into Fort Sumter. And, finally, they could not know that the Northerners would resist it by force; for not only is there no provision for such resistance by the Constitution, but the fact that it would be illegal, and also both wicked and ridiculous, to attempt to coerce States into any course that they did not approve, has been attested by a chorus of voices from the days of Jefferson and Madison to those of Mr Secretary Seward and Horace Greeley. It is true that Seward and Greeley are now vehement supporters of the war. Philip drunk has reversed the judgment of Philip sober. I will do Mr Seward the justice to say that he is not drunk; he only pretends to be. Consistency is not a virtue much affected by American politicians; and perhaps Mr Seward is as remarkable a case as could be found of the want of it.*
* Mr Seward's opinions as to the legality of Secession found their expression, not very long ago, in rather a remarkable way. A New England senator, I presume an Abolitionist, presented to the House in which he sat a petition for the dissolution of the Union. The motion which he founded on it, met, besides himself, with only two supporters. Those two were Mr Seward and Mr Chase. The fact that both these men should have held, and that one of them should still hold, a seat in the Cabinet of the President, who is waging a long, bloody, and terrible war against an act much less strong than the measure for which they both voted, and one performed in the exercise of rights which he who remains in it has loudly avowed, would be quite incomprehensible except upon the supposition that the political morality of the North has sunk to the level of that of France in
However, I admit that if the South had seceded from mere caprice, there would have been much to condemn in her conduct, as she would have been guilty of a treason to the memory of her own greatest citizens. I think that she ought to be able to show cause why the destruction of Washington's work should not be considered in the light of a neglect of Washington's principles. If the onus probandi of the justifiableness of the war rests upon the North, that of the justifiableness of the secession may be held by those Americans who have had any love for their Union, to rest upon the South.
Let us see what she can find to say for herself.
the days of the Convention and of England in those of the Cabal. But whatever be the case with the ex-Secretary of the Treasury, Mr Seward cannot avoid criticism by throwing the blame upon the circumstances under which he lives. The facts in his biography which have been alluded to, taken in connection with the shameful episode of “Old Whitey," and the celebrated curry.comb, which is not saved from being disgraceful by being ludicrous, combine to make up a picture which is more remarkable than attractive. If Juvenal or Pope were to reappear in America at the present day, Mr Seward might have a chance of immortality.
THE NORTH AND THE SOUTH-PRESIDENTIAL
To answer the question about what the South can say for herself, what excuse she can give for causing the disruption of a great federation, which has been looked upon by so many persons, not only in America but in Europe, as the grand experiment of freedom, it is necessary to look a little into its history.
The very first thing, I suppose, that a glance at its history shows, is that the opposition between South and North has existed from the beginning. At the convention which framed the Federal Constitution, among the various antagonisms of the different States which were pointed out, this one was distinguished as the most important of all. Slavery had nothing to do with it, for at that time nearly all the Northern States had slaves as much as the Southern ones had. Yet even then the character of the two sections differed, as might have been expected in the descendants of Cavaliers and the descendants of Puritans; and their interests were as much opposed to one another, to use the words of a speaker in that convention, as those of Russia and Turkey. Unfortunately, the system of government which the Convention adopted as the basis of the Federal Constitution was such as tended directly to aggravate the opposition.
I suppose the ablest of the great band of statesmen who presided over the formation of the American commonwealth was Alexander Hamilton, Scotchman by descent, West Indian by birth, New Yorker by residence. There was no more ardent supporter of American independence than he, no more daring soldier, and no more earnest politician. Yet though he was the most trusted confidant of the Republican leader Washington, and though he was the leader of the band which first made its way over our intrenchments at Yorktown, he was a warm admirer of England and her institutions. I believe that nothing would have pleased him better than to have adopted our Constitution bodily-King, House of Lords and all. This, however, was out of the question, considering the state of feeling in America ; and he proposed, as the next best thing, first a President for life, and then, as that would not do, a President for