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which the two parties came to an issue, on this as on other occasions, when they met in open conflict, it cannot be denied that the graveness of the offence was the unwarrantable assumption of the part of the North to override the rights of the South by an unconstitutional exercise of power, and that it was so is proved not only by the arguments of Daniel Webster, the ablest, as the most temperate, of modern American statesmen, but, also, most palpably by the direction events took in the consequent settlement of this question, as well as the subsequent presidential contests. Previous to 1850 the separate States of the North had resisted the resumption of a slave who had escaped from his master — fourteen of them had passed laws in their State Legislatures to that effect. To meet the complaint urged by the owners of slaves using the fair legal argument that the law of the land was bound to protect their property, Webster, Clay, and others brought in an Act to enable the slaveowner to pursue his slave into any State in the Union, and to call on the Federal authorities to assist him in recovering his property. Now, right or wrong, the law of the land did universally acknowledge the ownership of slaves, and the right accorded by this Act. “ The Fugitive Slave Act" was affirmed by a majority in
the Senate and in Congress after a long and bitter contest, and approved by Filmore, the then President. From this date commenced the disruption of the Union. The Federal officers, acting under this law, have been systematically resisted in the execution of their duty, even after the affirmation of it by the solemn judgment of the Supreme Court of Judicature of the United States.
In almost every case the expense and hindrance cost the owner more in recovering his slave than the property was worth, while in many he lost it altogether, and not seldom his life too, in the pursuit of it according to law. Now, however we may deplore and protest against the tenure of slaveholders, we cannot, by any principle known to civilised nations, ignore the fact, that the first duty a citizen owes the State is obedience to its laws, and resistance against their execution is an offence against the whole State. But in the United States not only was such resistance applauded by the Northern States, but it was made expressly the ground of asserting an unconstitutional supremacy over their equals in the Confederated Union. It was the injustice felt to be so done, and the right according to law which the South undoubtedly had, that swayed the nation in 1852, in their choice of Peirce-a New Hampshire
candidate, who was in favour of carrying out the laws of the land — in preference to General Scott, the present commander of the Northern forces ; and again, in 1856, in electing Buchanan, a Pennsylvanian, who avowed his intention of carrying out the law, by a large majority over Colonel Fremont. This proves incontestably that up to that date moderate and constitutional views prevailed in the body of the national electors; and the South, although they did not consider they had their full and fair share in the rights and privileges of the nation, yet acquiesced, in the hope that moderation and constitutional equity would guide the spirit of legislation.
The question of interest, which still more largely affects the motives which have induced both sides to hazard all their public and private ties, will be fully dealt with in a subsequent chapter. It is one which is totally ignored by every writer and speaker. on the Federal side with a most patent unanimity — for they are aware how it tells against them. I shall for the present content myself with quoting a very late authority for my denial that the slavery question is sole element of this fearful disruption, and asserting that it is very far in importance behind another, which has been studiously kept in the background by the North.
“ It is not slavery, but protection; it is not sentiment, but interest, which has destroyed the unity of the Great Transatlantic Republic.
“It is not any anxiety of New York to manumit the slaves, who raise the produce by which New York sends forth her volunteers, and makes her welcome them so warmly when they come back warworn at the end of three months' enlistment. The South, unless it were rich and productive as it lately was, would be of no use to New York.
“ Nor is it the fear of danger to their domestic institutions' which gathers the Southern host at Manassas Gap.
It is,' says Mr. Bernal Osborne, quoting William Cobbett's prophecy, now thirty years old,
because the heavy import duties on British goods are neither more nor less than so many millions a year taken from the Southern States, and given to their Northern competitor."" *
Having thus endeavoured to show what appears to be the course of conduct which has caused the present disruption and future total disunion of the States of America, it only remains to consider what will be its effect upon England and the other powers of Europe. Commercially speaking, the opening of
direct trade with the cotton, rice, and tobacco producing countries, unfettered by a prohibitory tariff, will of course be an advantage. Nor can the blockade which shuts out the world from this trade be long suffered to stand in the way. How it will be broken it is impossible to say; but if the experience of history is to guide us in appreciating the spirit with which the United States deals with foreign nations, there will not long lack an excuse. It would be well for England and France to seize the present opportunity for inculcating the Confederate States with a more liberal legal policy in dealing with slavery, and, without interference or dictation, advise as friends a modification of its disabilities. There is no indisposition on their part to ameliorate the condition of their slaves; and where a spirit of conciliation in lieu of coercion, of sympathy in difficulty in lieu of an antagonism which threatens subjugation, suggests a course of policy which the sense of the civilised world approves, we have no doubt of a happy result to such intervention. We may add that the experience of the working of the law in Brazil, under similar circumstances, fully warrants such an anticipation.
Any other intervention is now happily out of the question; the Emperor Napoleon seems to be tho