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property in slaves was protected by law. This property was recognized in the Constitution, and provision was made against its loss by the escape of the slave. The increase in the number of slaves by further importation from Africa was also secured by a clause forbidding Congress to prohibit the slave-trade anterior to a certain date; and in no clause can there be found any delegation of power to the Congress authorizing it in any manner to legislate to the prejudice, detriment, or discouragement of the owners of that species of property, or excluding it from the protection of the government. “The climate and soil of the Northern States soon proved unpropitious to the continuance of slave labor, whilst the converse was the case at the South. Under the unrestricted free intercourse between the two sections the Northern States consulted their own interest by selling their slaves to the South and prohibiting slavery within their limits. The South were willing purchasers of a property suitable to their wants, and paid the price of the acquisition without harboring a suspicion that their quiet possession was to be disturbed by those who were inhibited, not only by want of constitutional authority, but by good faith as vendors, from disquieting a title emanating from themselves. “As soon, however, as the Northern States that prohibited African slavery within their limits had reached a number sufficient to give their representation a controlling voice in the Congress, a persistent and organized system of hostile measures against the rights of the owners of slaves in the Southern States was inaugurated, and gradually extended. A continuous series of measures was devised and prosecuted for the purpose of rendering insecure the tenure of property in slaves; fanatical organizations, supplied with money by voluntary subscriptions, were assiduously engaged in exciting amongst the slaves a spirit of discontent and revolt; means were furnished for their escape from their owners, and agents secretly employed to entice them to abscond ; the constitutional provision for their rendition to their owners was first evaded, then openly denounced as a violation of conscientious obligation and religious duty; men were taught that it was a merit to elude, disobey, and violently oppose the execution of the laws enacted to secure the performance of the promise contained in the constitutional compact; owners of slaves were mobbed, and even murdered in open day, solely for applying to a magistrate for the arrest of a fugitive slave; the dogmas of these voluntary organizations soon obtained control of the Legislatures of many of the Northern States, and laws were passed providing for the punishment by ruinous fines and long-continued imprisonment in jails and penitentiaries of citizens of the Southern States who should dare to ask aid of the officers of the law for the recovery of their property. Emboldened by success, the theatre of agitation and aggression against the clearly expressed constitutional rights of the Southern States was transferred to the Congress; Senators and Representatives were sent to the common councils of the nation, whose chief title to this distinction consisted in the display of a spirit of ultra fanaticism, and whose business was, not “to promote the general welfare or insure domestic tranquillity, but to awaken the bitterest hatred against the citizens of sister States by violent denunciation of their institutions; the transaction of public affairs was impeded by repeated efforts to usurp powers not delegated by the Constitution, for the purpose of impairing the security of property in slaves, and reducing those States which held slaves to a condition of inferiority. Finally, a great party was organized for the purpose of obtaining the administration of the government, with the avowed object of using its power for the total exclusion of the Slave States from all participation in the benefits of the public domain, acquired by all the States in common, whether by conquest or purchase; of surrounding them entirely by States in which slavery should be prohibited; of thus rendering the property in slaves so insecure as to be comparatively worthless, and thereby annihilating in effect property worth thousands of millions of dollars. This party, thus organized, succeeded in the month of November last in the election of its candidate for the Presidency of the United States. “In the mean time, under the mild and genial climate of the Southern States, and the increasing care and attention for the well-being and comfort of the laboring class, dictated alike by interest and humanity, the African slaves had augmented in number from about 600,000, at the date of the adoption of the constitutional compact, to upwards of 4,000,000. In moral and social condition they had been elevated from brutal savages into docile, intelligent, and civilized agricultural laborers, and supplied not only with bodily comforts, but with careful religious
instruction. Under the supervision of a superior race, their labor had been so directed as not only to allow a gradual and marked amelioration of their own condition, but to convert hundreds of thousands of square miles of the wilderness into cultivated lands, covered with a prosperous people; towns and cities had sprung into existence, and had rapidly increased in wealth and population under the social system of the South; the white population of the Southern slaveholding States had augmented from 1,250,000 at the date of the adoption of the Constitution, to more than 8,500,000 in 1860; and the productions of the South in cotton, rice, sugar, and tobacco, for the full development and continuance of which the labor of African slaves was and is indispensable, had swollen to an amount which formed nearly three fourths of the exports of the whole United States, and had become absolutely necessary to the wants of civilized man.
“With interests of such overwhelming magnitude imperilled, the people of the Southern States were driven by the conduct of the North to the adoption of some course of action to avert the danger with which they were openly menaced. With this view, the Legislatures of the several States invited the people to select delegates to Conventions to be held for the purpose of determining for themselves what measures were best adapted to meet so alarming a crisis in their history.
“ Here it may be proper to observe, that from a period as early as 1798 there had existed in all of the States of the Union a party, almost uninterruptedly in the majority, based upon the creed that each State was,
in the last resort, the sole judge as well of its wrongs as of the mode and measure of redress. Indeed, it is obvious that un'der the law of nations this principle is an axiom as applied to the relations of independent sovereign states, such as those which had united themselves under the constitutional compact. The Democratic party of the United States repeated in its successful canvass in 1856 the declaration made in numerous previous political contests, that it would * faithfully abide by and uphold the principles laid down in the Kentucky and Virginia Resolutions of 1798, and in the report of Mr. Madison to the Virginia Legislature in 1799; and that it adopts those principles as constituting one of the main foundations of its political creed:
“The principles thus emphatically announced embrace that to which I have already adverted, the right of each State to judge of and redress the wrongs of which it complains. These principles were maintained by overwhelming majorities of the people of all the States of the Union at different elections, especially in the elections of Mr. Jefferson in 1805, Mr. Madison in 1809, and Mr. Pierce in 1852.
“In the exercise of a right so ancient, so well established, and so necessary for self-preservation, the people of the Confederate States in their Conventions determined that the wrongs which they had suffered and the evils with which they were menaced required that they should revoke the delegation of powers to the Federal Government which they had ratified in their several Conventions. They consequently passed ordinances resuming all their rights as sovereign and independent States, and dissolved their connection with the other States of the Union.”
Our especial purpose at this time is, not to inquire into the truth of the allegation that the President of the United States had made a declaration of war in his proclamation, nor to consider how far the grievances alleged have any substantial foundation regarded as accusations against the government of the Union, nor to show how the freedom and material prosperity of the people who make the complaint have been protected and secured by the government which they now assail.
That we may not, however, be supposed to concede by silence that President Lincoln's proclamation can in any just sense be regarded as a declaration of war, or a commencement of hostile measures, we refer the reader to the proclamation itself, and to certain significant words of one L. P. Walker, claiming to be Secretary of War of the Confederate States, uttered at Montgomery on the evening of the day on which the bombardment of Fort Sumter commenced, which was three days before President Lincoln's proclamation was issued. They may be found in another column of the number of the National Intelligencer which contains the “Message.” Serenaded in celebration of that joyous occasion, and declining
to make'a speech when thus called out, the War Secretary, in
If any one is curious to inquire into the truth and justice of the grievances alleged as a justification for the attempted secession, we must refer him, for the present, to the contemporary history, as found in the various publications of the day.
There is not before us at this time any question how far these alleged grievances, if true, might justify revolution. The right of revolution is now generally admitted by all who sustain the political dogma, that the people have a right to govern themselves. But while revolution seems thus to be well admitted as a right, the persons by whom, and the limits within which, the right may be exercised, have not thus far been very explicitly or accurately designated and defined. The generalizations which usually accompany the admission of the right, seem to require for its rightful exercise causes of the gravest character, without any distinct enumeration of those which should be regarded as sufficient; they assert its existence in the people, without specifying what classes of the whole population are entitled to that character, or what portion of the persons known as the people may exercise the right; and they insist upon a right of reform, without indicating very precisely what should be the legitimate objects of the reformation. - It must be admitted, that in all these particulars accuracy of specification and limitation is difficult, not to say impossible; and yet to revolution regard