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EFFORTS TO PRESERVE THE UNION,
It has long been the custom of Northern writers to talk flippantly about the "secession conspirators,” and to denounce Southern Leaders, and especially Mr. Davis, as secretly "plotting to destroy the Union,” because of failure to carry out their own ambitious ends, and the “Slaveholders' Rebellion” is held up to eternal execration as a wicked attempt to "destroy the life of the Nation."
Never was there a more unjustifiable attempt to falsify the truth of history, and to shift the responsibility of the war from those who were really the guilty parties to those who did all in ti eir power to avert it.
No man ever loved the “Union of the Fathers” inore devotedly than Jefferson Davis—no man ever strove more earnestly than ho to prevent its dissolution. And when all hope had fled and he followed his Sovereign State in the exercise of her constitutional right of Secession, and was called to be the President of the Confederacy, he did everything in his power to avert war, stood purely on the defensive, and made as purely a defensive fight for sacred principles and rights as the world ever saw, or the pen of the historian ever recorded.
But before giving the details of his efforts to avert threatened disunion and war, let us look at an admirablo summary of the events that led up to the catastrophe, which he gives in the seventh chapter of his great book—"The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government."
We quote in full as follows:
“When, at the close of the war of the Revolution, each of the thirteen colonies that had been engaged in that contest was severally acknowledged by the mother-country, Great Britain, to be a free and independent State, the confederation of those States embraced an area so extensive, with climate and products so various, that rivalries and conflicts of interest soon began to be manifested. It required all the power of wisdom and patriotism, animated by the affection engendered by common susserings and dangers, to keep these rivalries under restraint, and to effect those compromises which it was fondly hoped would insure the harmony and mutual good offices of each for the benefit of all. It was in this spirit of patriotism and confidence in the continuance of such abiding good will as would for all time preclude hostile aggression, that Virginia ceded, for the uso of the confederated States, all the vast extent of territory lying north of the Ohio river, out of which have since been formed five States and part of a sixth. The addition of these States has accrued entirely to the preponderance of the Northern section over that from which the donation proceeded, and to the disturbance of the equilibrium which existed at the close of the war of the Revolution.
"It may not be out of place here to refer to the fact that the grievances which led to that war were directly inflicted upon the Northern colonies. Those of the Soạth had no material cause of complaint; but, actuated by sympathy for their Northern brethren, and devotion to the principles of civil liberty and community independence, which they had inherited from their Anglo-Saxon ancestry, and which were set forth in the Declaration of Independence, they made common cause with their neighbors, and may, at least, claim to have done their full share in the war that ensued.
“By the exclusion of the South, in 1820, from all that part of the Louisiana purchase lying north of the parallel of thirty
six degrees thirty minutes, and not included in the State of Missouri; by the extension of that line of exclusion to embrace the territory acquired from Texas; and by the appropriation of all the territory obtained from Mexico under the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, both north and south of that line, it may be stated with approximate accuracy that the North had monopolized to herself more than three-fourths of all that had been added to the domain of the United States since the Declaration of Independence. This inequality, which began, as has been shown, in the more generous than wise confidence of the South, was employed to obtain for the North the lion's share of what was afterward added at the cost of the public treasure and the blood of patriots. I do not care to estimate the relative proportion contributed by each of the two sections.
“ Nor was this the only cause that operated to disappoint the reasonable hopes and to blight the fair prospects under which the original compact was formed. The effects of discriminating duties upon imports have been referred to in a former chapter-favoring the manufacturing region, which was the North; burdening the exporting region, which was the South; and so imposing upon the latter a double tax; one, by the increased price of articles of consumption, which, so far as they were of home production, went into the pockets of the manufacturer; the other, by the diminished value of articles of export, which was so much withheld from the pockets of the agriculturist. In like manner the power of the majority section was employed to appropriate to itself an unequal share of the public disbursements. These combined causes—the possession of more territory, more money, and a wider field for the employment of special labor-all served to attract immigration; and, with increasing population, the greed grew by what it fed on.
“This became distinctly manifest when the so-called Republican' convention assembled in Chicago, on May 16, 1860, to nominate a candidate for the Presidency. It was a purely sectional body. There were a few delegates present, representing an insignificant minority in the border States,' Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri; but not one from any State south of the celebrated political line of thirtysix degrees thirty minutes. It had been the invariable usage with nominating conventions of all parties to select caņdidates for the Presidency and Vice-Presidency, one from the North and the other from the South; but this assemblage nominated Mr. Lincoln, of Illinois, for the first office, and for the second, Mr. Hamlin, of Maine—both Northerners. Mr. Lincoln, its nominee for the Presidency, had publicly announced that the Union 'could not permanently endure, half slave and half free.' The resolutions adopted contained some carefully worded declarations, well adapted to deceive the credulous who were opposed to hostile aggressions upon the rights of the States. In order to accomplish this purpose, they were compelled to create a fictitious issue, in denouncing what they described as 'the new dogma that the constitution, of its own force, carries slavery into any or all of the Territorries of the United States'—a "dogma' which had never been held or declared by anybody, and which had no existence outside of their own assertion. There was enough in connection with the nomination to assure the most fanatical foes of the constitution that their ideas would be the rule and guide of the party.
Meantime, the Democratic party had held a convention, composed, as usual, of delegates from all the States. They met in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 23d, but an unfortunate disagreement with regard to the declaration of principles to be set forth rendered a nomination impracticable. Both divisions of the convention adjourned, and met again in Baltimore in June. Then, having finally failed to
come to an agreement, they separated and made their respectivo nominations apart. Mr. Douglas, of Illinois, was nominated by the friends of the doctrine of 'popular sovereignty,' with Mr. Fritzpatrick, of Alabama, for the Vice-Presidency. Both these gentlemen at that time were senators from their respective States. Mr. Fritzpatrick promptly declined the nomination, and his place was filled with the name of Mr. Herschel V. Johnson, a distinguished citizen of Georgia.
“Tho. convention representing the conservative, or StateRights, wing of the Democratic party (the President of which was the Honorable Caleb Cushing, of Massachusetts), on the first ballot, unanimously made choice of John C. Breckinridge, of Kentucky, then Vice-President of the United States, for the first office, and with like unanimity selected General Joseph Lane, then a senator from Oregon, for the second. The resolutions of each of these two conventions denounced the action and policy of the abolition party, as subversive of the constitution and revolutionary in their tendency.
“Another convention was held in Baltimore about the same period* by those who still adhered to the old Whig party, re-enforced by the remains of the American' organization, and perhaps some others. This convention also consisted of delegates from all the States, and repudiating all geographical and sectional issues, and declaring it to be 'both the part of patriotism and of duty to recognize no political principle other than the constitntion of the country, the Union of the States, and the enforcement of the laws,' pledged itself and its supporters 'to maintain, protect, and defend, separately and unitedly, those great principles of public liberty and national safety against all enemies at home and abroad.” Its nominees were Messrs. John Bell, of Tennessee, and Edward Everett, of Massachusetts, both of whom had long been distinguished members of the Whig party.
May 19, 1860.