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shrewdly disguised their selfish designs beneath a mask of traditional regard for the Constitution of the United States. When, however, the North began to grow restless under its subservience to Southern domination, and to manifest a desire for emancipation, the partisan leaders of the South became anxious lest they should lose the political mastery by which they had so long governed a nation in the interests of a faction. Alarmed by these evidences of Northern independence, the Southern leaders asserted their theory of State sovereignty with increased audacity, and threatened to evoke its exercise to the destruction of the Union. They thus hoped to frighten the Northern people, who were known to be fondly devoted to the united country, into renewed submission to Southern control.
The North had, in the mean time, been rapidly gaining in power through the natural increase of population and an immense European immigration. The South had striven to balance this growing ascendency by an increase of slave States. By artful party combinations, and skillful management of Northern politicians, the partisan leaders of the South for awhile succeeded in their purpose. Texas was annexed at the expense of a war with Mexico, and established a slave State; an intrigue, though it proved abortive, was set on foot to force Spain into the sale of servile Cuba; and finally the Missouri Compromise act was abrogated, for the purpose of admitting the Territories of Nebraska and Kansas as slaveholding
States. The Northern people became alarmed by these continued encroachments of the South, and resolutely prepared to check them. In spite of the virtual abrogation of the Missouri Compromise act, by which the new Territory was thrown open to slavery, Kansas, through the efforts of the advocates of free soil, was filled with Northern settlers, and became by the votes of its inhabitants a free State. This, however, was not effected without a struggle. The neighboring slave States had sent in armed bands to resist the Northern immigration, and a bloody strife ensued, which greatly stirred the antagonistic interests and sentiments of the Northern and Southern States.
It was in the course of this bitter contention that the Republican party was formed, to resist the further extension of slavery. It soon gathered to its standard such a force as to threaten a successful opposition to the oldest and most po-werful political combinations.
Fully organized, the Republican party met in convention at Philadelphia on the 17th of June, and 1856, nominated John C. Fremont, the eminent explorer. for President. Though a native of South Carolina, he was known to be strongly opposed to the extension of slavery, and in favor of free labor. He, however, objected to any interference with the rights of the Southern States secured to them by the Constitution of the United States, as he thus declared in a letter addressed to some leading members of the Republican party: "I heartily concur," he
wrote, "in all movements which have for their object to repair the mischiefs arising from the violation of good faith in the repeal of the Missouri Compromise. I am opposed to slavery in the abstract and upon principle, sustained and made habitual by long-settled convictions. While I feel inflexible in the belief that it ought not to be interfered with where it exists under the shield of State sovereignty, I am as inflexibly opposed to its extension on this continent beyond its present limits." This is probably not only a fair exposition of his individual opinion, on the exciting question of slavery, but of that of the great mass of the Rejmblican party.
The political contest for the Presidency which ensued upon the nomination of Fremont was one of the most stirring of our periodical excitements. The result was the triumph of the candidate of the Democratic party, James Buchanan, for whom the whole South, with the exception of Maryland, whose choice was for Fillmore, had cast its vote. Fremont, however, had received the large suffrage of one hundred and fourteen out of the whole electoral vote of three hundred and six. New York, Ohio, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin, and the six New England States were arrayed in favor of the Republican candidate. By the election of their favorite, Mr. Buchanan, the Southern leaders were apparently soothed, and they settled into a temporary political contentment. In the course of the electoral contest, some had audaciously declared that in case of the election of the Republican
candidate, the slave States would exercise their self-asserted sovereignty, and secede from the Union. This threat, however, deemed but the angry effusion of political contention, or a mere electioneering ruse, was little heeded.
Though exulting in the triumph of the election of their favorite, Buchanan, of whose sympathy with their political views they did not seem to doubt, and by whose elevation to power they had apparently established the security of their own, the political leaders of the South soon began to show evident symptoms of restless discontent. The already acquired and growing strength of the Republican party darkened their prospect of continued domination; the issue of the Kansas struggle had resulted in the defeat of their hope of securing another slave State; freer expositions* of the evils of their cherished institution, and the insurrectionary attempt at Harper's Ferry, aroused their fears ; and the audacious prophecies of Republican leaders, who foretold an "irrepressible conflict," threatened them with a resolute opposition. They now began to be hopeless of future triumphs, and prepared, some by open appeals to sectional prejudice, and others by secret means, to dissolve the Union. More than two years since, Jefferson Davis, then a senator of the United States, now the President of the self-styled Confederate States, boldly avowed, in a speech at Jackson, Mississippi, these insurrection
° For example, the publication of Helper's "Impending Crisis."
ary sentiments, which prove that the present rebellion, of which he is the master spirit, had been with him for a long time a "foregone conclusion." "If an abolitionist," he said, "be chosen President of the United States, you will have presented to you the question of whether you will permit the Government to pass into the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies? Without pausing for an answer, I will state my own position to be that such a result would be a species of revolution by which the purposes of the Government would be destroyed and the observance of its mere forms entitled to no respect. In that event, in such a manner as should be most expedient, I should deem it your duty to provide for your safety outside of the Union, with those who have already shown the will, and would have acquired the power, to deprive you of your birthright, and to reduce you to worse than the colonial dependence of your fathers."
The Southern press, too, began to urge emphatically the right of secession, and the advantage to the States of the South of separation from the Union. To gain the sympathy of the people, who had yet a traditional reverence for the Government founded by Washington and the patriots of the Revolution, incessant appeals were made alternately to their fears, their passions, and their cupidity. The principles of the Republican party and its leaders were studiously perverted. Their objects were declared to be the abolition of slavery, which they were determined to accom
plish, at any hazard to the lives and property of the Southern people. The inhabitants of the sea-ports were deluded with the magnificent prospects of a direct trade with Europe, by which the dwindling cities of the South would be swollen into the importance of Tyre and Carthage, and enriched with the wealth of the whole commercial world. The cupidity, too, and pride of the poorer population, the "mean whites," the Pariahs of the South, who, without property and without enterprise to acquire it, had nothing to fear from the abolition of slavery, or to hope from the promotion of commerce, were aroused by the promise of the re-establishment of the slave-trade, by which the Lazarus of the pine barren would be enabled to count his negroes with the Dives of the rice jungle. The hazards, moreover, of casting off the protection of the powerful Government of the United States and incurring the interposition of its contemned authority were conjured away by the confident assurances that Great Britain and France would eagerly embrace the cause and seek the alliance of the "Cotton kingdom," to which European trade would be forced to do homage.
The people of the South were thus artfully being seduced from their allegiance to the Union while their leaders were conspiring to destroy it. The President, Buchanan, bound in close ties of political sympathy with the prominent partisans of the Southern States, had selected from among them the chief members of his cabinet, to whose guidance he yielded his feeble will, which they seemed to lead unresistingly to their own purposes. The treasury, the army, the navy, and the state, either under the control of Southern conspirators directly, or indirectly through the perhaps unconscious connivance of Northern political allies, were administered to the advantage of a rebellion which had been long contemplated. The public moneys were illegally appropriated for Southern purposes, the naval ships were dispatched to remote parts of the world, munitions of war were profusely distributed among the States of the South, and the offices of the Government both at home and abroad were filled by confederates of the conspirators of the slave States.
SOUTH CAROLINA DESIRING TO SECEDE.
In the mean time, the Republican party, with increased strength, was preparing to join in the struggle for political ascendency with renewed hope. Its undoubted power became so manifest, that the more impatient of the Southern leaders lost all hope of successful opposition within the Union, and began to prepare for open resistance.
South Carolina, with her loyalty to the Union long since weakened by false theories and seditious practices, was the first to move toward secession. On the 30th of November a resolution was offered in the House of Representatives of South Carolina, that "South Carolina is ready to enter, together with other slaveholding States, or such as desire prompt action, into the formation of a Southern confederacy;" and the governor was requested to for
ward the resolution to the various Southern States. To this succeeded other action toward the same object.
In the following January, Mr. Memminger, a prominent politician of the State, presented himself at Richmond, as the commissioner of South Carolina to Virginia, and delivered a long speech, in the course of which he argued that the guarantees of the Constitution of the United States were powerless to protect the South, and that it must demand new guarantees if the Union was to be preserved.
Some of the more impatient of the politicians of South Carolina had anticipated by many years in their rhetorical effusions, this grave action of their State. In 1856, Preston Brooks, a member of the United States Congress from South Carolina, whose emphasis of action was made manifest by his murderous attack upon Senator Sumner, of Massachusetts, delivered these characteristic words to some of his fellow-citizens who were honoring him with a public banquet:
"I tell you, fellow-citizens, from the bottom of my heart, that the only mode which I think for meeting the issue is just to tear the Constitution of the United States, trample it under foot, and form a Southern confederacy, every State of which shall be a slaveholding State. I believe it as I stand in the face of my Maker—I believe it on my responsibility to you, as your honored representative, that the only hope of the South is in the South, and that the only available means of making that hope effective is to cut asunder the bonds that tie us together, and take our separate position in the family of nations." These sentiments found a ready echo among the seditiously disposed people of South Carolina.
The period for the electoral struggle for the Presidency was approaching. The conventions for the nomination of candidates had met. The Democratic National Convention assembled on the 25th of April, at Charleston, in South Carolina. Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts, was elected president, and a platform was adopted. This, however, did not concede to the South all it claimed as '' necessary guarantees for the preservation of the Union," and the Southern delegates withdrawing, organized a Southern convention. This met on the 3d of May, but after many ineffectual attempts, failing to agree upon a candidate for the Presidency, adjourned to meet at Richmond. The Democratic National Convention had also adjourned to meet at Baltimore, on the 13th of June. On reassembling, a large number of delegates again withdrew. Those remaining nominated Stephen A.' Douglas, of Illinois, for President, and Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of Alabama, for Vice-President. The seceders met and nominated John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, then Vice-President of the United States, for President, and for Vice-President, Joseph Lane, of Oregon. These nominations were afterward confirmed by the convention at Richmond. In the mean time a convention, styling itself the "Constitu
tional Union," met at Baltimore on the 9th of May, and nominated John Bell, of Tennessee, for President, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, for VicePresident.
Again, at Chicago, on the 16th of May, the convention of that now imposing party, the National Republican, met in convention and nominated Abraham Lincoln, of Illinois, for President, and Hannibal Hamlin, of Maine, for VicePresident.
The leaders of the South had evidently determined to forego the advantage of their usual political combinations with their fellow-partisans of the North, by whose aid they could alone hope to secure their prescriptive importance in the Union. They were willing thus to weaken by division those who were still inclined to succor them in an unavoidable struggle with a party whose power if established they professed to consider fatal to their rights. It would seem that disunion with them was a predetermined act, and that they wished the success of the National Republicans, whom they persisted in denouncing as abolitionists, to justify their contemplated Southern rebellion to the people of the South, whose sensitive anxieties for the security of their slave interests might be readily excited to an angry resistance to the constitutional authorities of the United States. The division of the Democratic party, from which certainly the Southern leaders could have no fears of an invasion of their constitutional rights, threw the election into the power of the Republicans, whom