J.L.M. Curry: The Perils and Duty of the South
Speech Delivered in Talladega, Alabama, November 26, 1860
|Jabez L. M. Curry was born in Georgia but moved to Alabama and took up a law practice. After service in the state legislature he was elected to Congress in 1856. He was appointed commissioner to Maryland by Gov. A.B. Moore and then served in the Confederate Congress until defeated for re-election in 1863. He then served as lieutenant colonel of the 5th Alabama Cavalry. The text of this speech is taken from Southern Pamphlets on Secession, edited by Jon Wakelyn. The picture is taken from North & South magazine, vol. 4, no. 4 (2001). After the war, Curry became a Baptist preacher, an agent for the Peabody Education fund, and a noted historian of the causes of the Civil War One of his finest works was The Legal Justification of the South in Secession (1866).||
The Presidential election, with its hopes, its excitements, its banners, its candidates, its alienations, its divisions, is past. What is unprecedented in party warfare there is no rejoicing over local victories; we are overwhelmed with the intelligence of Abolition success. The appalling danger looms up in terrible distinctness before us. The black flag will soon wave over the Federal Capitol. The crimson dagger of fanaticism has been deliberately plunged into the very vitals of the Constitution. Men of all parties in the South are combining for defence and security. Religious conventions speaking out solemn convictions, and indignant protests against wrong to their section have been wrung from reluctant lips. "Darkness visible" wraps the future, and the imperiled South calls upon every son and daughter to do their duty.
CHARACTER OF THE GOVERNMENT
The Declaration of Independence in 1776, and the treaty of peace in 1783, with Great Britain, recognized the freedom and independence of the colonies as separate States. As independent sovereignties they entered upon the work of forming the Union. Instead of subjecting themselves to the dominion and authority of a centralized and consolidated government, they ordained a constitutional compact, "to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, and promote the general welfare." The end and purpose were to preserve, protect, and perpetuate a community and reciprocity of rights as between sovereign and co-equal States. A confederacy of States, and not a consolidated nation, was established. The people were not blended into one undistinguishable mass, but their separateness as citizens of particular States was jealously preserved. "The Union is a union of States as communities, and not a union of individuals." The Constitution was not ordained by the American people collectively, but by independent States. As such they represented themselves in the Convention; as such they voted in the Convention. When the Constitution was adopted it was not submitted for ratification to the people of the United States en masse, but to the people of each State. The ratification was by each State for itself, each doing what it alone could do, binding its citizens, and the Constitution was to be binding only between the States so ratifying. Certain specified powers were delegated to the Government, so formed, and prohibited to the States, while the great residuary mass of undelegated, unprohibited and undescribed powers were reserved to each State respectively and the people thereof. The Government is but the agent of the States, "constituted to execute their joint will, as expressed in the Constitution." It is one of well-defined limitations and restrictions, and in every part of the compact the States, the contracting parties, evinced the most jealous care of their separate sovereignty and independence, and refused to delegate any power which would infringe upon their equality, or surrender the right to determine the nature and extent of the agreement they made, not with the Government, their creature, but with one another.
At the time of the formation of the Constitution, slavery had been abolished in Massachusetts, and other northern States were planning measures for the prospective emancipation of the increase of the few slaves in their midst. In the Convention a serious difference of opinion, threatening disaster to the project of forming a new government, disclosed itself in reference to the recognition and guaranty of slavery, and the relation which should subsist between the white and black races. This difference of opinion developed a future diversity of interests, which interposed a serious obstacle to success and harmony. Mr. Madison, in a speech before the body, said "the difference of interests lay not between the large and small, but between the northern and southern States. The institution of slavery and its consequences formed the line of discrimination." Moderate counsels prevailed, and in seeking to secure the blessings of liberty to themselves and their posterity, our fathers wisely recognized the relation of dependence and servitude on the part of the blacks, left the whole subject of slavery in the States to the separate and uncontrolled judgment of each State, and refused to the General Government any power to prohibit slavery in any of the public domain under its jurisdiction. By compromise, after many efforts, it was provided that representatives and direct taxes should be apportioned among the States according to their respective numbers, and that, in ascertaining the number of each, three-fifths of the slaves should be included. Next, that Congress should not prohibit the African slave trade prior to 1808. Next, that slaves escaping to States, where slavery did not exist, should not be discharged from servitude, but should be delivered up on claim of the owner. Next, that no capitation or direct tax should be laid but in proportion to federal numbers. And next, that the States should be protected by the United States against invasion or domestic violence. Most of these provisions were adopted with unanimity; all of them were satisfactory. Judge Baldwin, in the case of Johnson vs. Tompkins and others, said: "The foundations of the Government laid and rest on the right of property in slaves." The framers of the Government indulged in no such sickly sentimentality or false philosophy as Lincoln and the Chicago platform avow. They found in the country 600,000 african slaves, and they made no pretence of emancipating them or giving them the rights of citizenship. They never dreamed that the Declaration of Independence included negroes, and that the negroes were entitled to freedom without reference to place, time, or circumstance.
BLACK REPUBLICAN PARTY SECTIONAL AND HOSTILE
In the progress and administration of the government there have necessarily been parties pervaded by some leading ideas, and drawing the political elements into two or more divisions. Until recently those parties have derived unity, consistency, and personality from variant views of constitutional construction, and the advocacy of different governmental policies as applied to trade, finance, manufactures expenditures, territorial extension, &c. These parties have alike existed in every State, and in every county of every State. They were national, coextensive with the Union, and the success or defeat of either was welcomed or deplored in every part of the Republic. Candidates for the highest offices were chosen from all sections. Electoral tickets for them were formed in every State, and political discussions elicited the merits or defects appertaining to all. Now, how changed! The Republican party is an anomaly in our federative system, and you cannot characterize it save by what Washington in his farewell address termed a geographical discrimination. It exists only in the northern States, and for the first time in our history a partisan organization, exclusively and intensely sectional, has obtained ascendancy in our Government. Its majorities, so large and fearful, were obtained in one section. In a large portion it has neither majorities nor minorities. In the South it has no practical existence. The Government is to be with the North. There is an impulsive tendency in human nature to maintain power when acquired, and secure and fortify the means of its acquisition. There must inevitably be a want of sympathy between the Government and the South. Lincoln and the Republican party must obey the law of their being. They cannot assume new positions, and liberate themselves from the trammels of opinions and associations which have carried them into power. The bond of brotherhood between the North and the South, so far as political parties are concerned, is broken. Where is the security of the South, and what is her position in the Union? If history furnishes any lessons of wisdom or experience, she must rely upon herself for protection and safety.
The party which has the supremacy is not only sectional and geographical, but it is based upon opinions which will subvert, if unresisted, the foundations of the social structure of the fifteen southern States. Its fundamental idea is hostility to the South and her peculiar property, and it arrays the eighteen northern against the fifteen southern States of the confederacy. The recent election has consolidated and made permanent a political revolution, which has for several years been in process of establishment. Sectional and hostile candidates, by the popular voice of a sectional majority, have been elected President and Vice-President. Abolitionism has triumphed. Former relations of fraternity and mutuality of interests between confederated States have been destroyed. What our fathers, by patriotism and common sympathy, wrought, in the Constitution, into a compromise of interests, has been changed into a conflict of sections; and at the North, love and good will have degenerated into jealousy and hostility. The North has sectionalized itself, and is controlled by principles and ideas adverse to our equality and property. The Government "in becoming the exponent of that one section, necessarily becomes the enemy of the other." Future public policy is authoritatively and unmistakably declared. The vox populi which created and must uphold Lincoln's administration will still have the mastery, and require obedience, and compel the support of northern interests, the development of northern ideas, the security of northern power, and the destruction of African slavery. The institution of slavery is put under the ban, proscribed, and outlawed. Southern States and citizens of those States, because of the possession of slave property, are stigmatized and pilloried and reduced to inferiority.
WHAT ABOLITIONISM HAS DONE AND PROPOSES TO DO
The progress of anti-slaveryism, with its gigantic and God-defying assumptions, may well awaken serious apprehensions. It has been progressive and aggressive. With the remorseless insatiety of the two daughters of the horse-leech, no concessions have satisfied its cormorant appetite, and no compromises have imposed obligation on its seared conscience. In 1852 the Whig and Democratic parties, in national conventions, resolved the "compromise measures" of 1850 into "a finality"; but the Whig party was overthrown in the effort, while the Democratic party was crippled, and has since been riven in twain, if not destroyed forever. It is idle to attribute the growth and power of abolitionism to the Kansas bill, the repeal of the Missouri restriction, or to any recent cause. Prior to that time parties had been denationalized, and the strong ties which bound kindred ecclesiastical organizations of the same faith and order had been loosened or snapped asunder. Ten States in 1847 passed resolutions, through their legislatures, in favor of excluding the South from the Territories, held in trust for common use and enjoyment. Through the school room, the public lecture, the pulpit, the political convention, the legislature, and the thousand-tongued press, the northern mind has been educated down to this devil-born fanaticism. To attempt to arrest or eradicate by mild persuasion or appeal to brotherly love, would be as vain as the attempt to summon back a moment of time from the great ocean of the past into which it has just been engulphed.
It is difficult to enumerate, without shame of southern spirit, what antislaveryism has done and proposes to do. I need not tire you with a recital of the agitation persistently kept up for years against slavery as found in our midst; of the shameless aspersions of our good name and character, at home and abroad; of the denunciation of slavery, as a relic of barbarism, equiponderant in infamy with polygamy; of the felonious running away of thousands of slaves by underground railroads; of the emissaries sent in our midst to excite insurrection; of fire-brand publications transmitted through the mails; of sending Sharpe's rifles and emigrants to Kansas; of the invasion of Virginia by John Brown and his murderous confreres; or of the sympathy and honors showered upon his remains. These may be objected to as exceptional ebullitions of individual fanaticism. Unfortunately, we are not wanting in proofs of hostility of higher grade. With utter disregard of oaths and constitutional obligations, with sneering contempt for southern chivalry, the Constitution --- "the only bond of the Union of these States" --- is openly violated. Ingenious devices have been invented by northern States to embarrass the execution of the fugitive-slave law, and render nugatory one of the plainest provisions of the federal covenant. Eleven states have made the prosecution of the Master's claim to a runaway or stolen negro a crime, and prohibit their officers and citizens from aiding the execution of the law; some deny the use of their jails and public buildings in aid of the master; some provide legal defence for the runaway, and some impose fines and imprisonment on the owner or his agent.
Judge Story, not friendly to slavery, in one of his decisions (Prigg vs. Pennsylvania) said, speaking of the constitutional provision for the recovery of fugitive slaves, which has been so grossly nullified: "Historically, it is well known that the object of this clause was to secure to the citizens of the slaveholding States the complete right and title of ownership in their slaves, as property, in every State of the Union into which they might escape from the State wherein they were held in servitude." "The full recognition of this right and title was indispensable to the security of this species of property in all the slaveholding States, and, indeed, was so vital to the preservation of their interests and institutions, that it cannot be doubted that it constituted a fundamental article, without the adoption of which the Union would not have been formed." "The clause was of the last importance to the safety and security of the southern States, and could not be surrendered by them without endangering their whole property in slaves."
Daniel Webster, in a speech at Capon Springs, Virginia, in 1851, said: "I do not hesitate to say and repeat that if the northern States refuse wilfully and deliberately to carry into effect that part of the constitution which respects the restoration of fugitive slaves, the South would no longer be bound to observe the compact. A bargain broken on one side is broken on all sides."
Caleb Cushing, than whom Massachusetts has not a purer patriot or abler statesman, says, in a recent letter, that "the violation of the fundamental compact of association by one of the contracting parties, serves in morality, as well as law, to release the others."
Such conduct as I have described, on the part of a foreign nation, would justify war, and was one of the chief causes of the Peloponnesian war. Those States which have defeated the execution of this federal law by State laws, --- which, in the language of Cushing, are "scandalously false in their profession of purpose and tyrannical in their domestic and treasonable in their federal relations," --- have broken the bargain, have assumed a treasonable and revolutionary attitude against the Constitution, and are in rebellion against the supreme law of the land. The recent election justifies the treason, vindicates the rebellion, unblushingly sanctions the violation of the compact; and we are counselled to submit to "the perpetration of the enormous crime which has placed this Government in the hands of the revolutionary chiefs" of a hostile section.
Having shown the character of the Republican party and some of its wrong-doings, it is appropriate to pursue the discussion by an inquiry into its aims and policy, now that it will soon obtain possession of the Government. The animating principle of the party is hostility to slavery. It champions the idea of the natural, inherent, inalienable right of the Africans to freedom, and to the rights, privileges, and immunities of citizenship. It wages an unceasing crusade against our civilization. It educates the northern people to alienation, bitterness, strife, and hate. It denounces the "barbarism" of our institutions, and us as "barbarians." It has overwhelmed and crushed out the conservative elements of the North. It has ostracized the Fillmores, and Everetts, and Winthrops, on the one side, and the Lanes, the Dickinsons, the Halletts, and the Fitchs, on the other, and promoted in their stead the Sumners, the Wilsons, the Sewards, the Wades, the Lovejoys. It seeks the extinction of African slavery at the South --- the liberation of the negroes in our midst. "It threatens," says a northern writer, "with fire and sword every southern hearth, with death every southern man, and with dishonor every southern female, amid a saturnalia of blood."
Coming into power on the flood-tide of popular fanaticism, grown insolent by repeated submissions on the part of the South, it behooves us to ascertain their purposes and to understand the dangers which imperil us. Denying to the South equality in the enjoyment of the common Territories, they seek to circumscribe the South, to prevent her growth and expansion, and localize slavery in the present States of its existence. Proceeding one step further, the inter-State and coast-wise slave trade is to be prohibited; slaves are not to be transported for sale beyond the limits of any State, nor shopped from Baltimore to Charleston, from Norfolk to Savannah, from New Orleans to Galveston. The saleable or transferable value is to be diminished, and the institution localized and made less profitable in the particular States which allow it. Advancing still further in the work of destruction, slavery is to be abolished in the District of Columbia and other places subject to federal jurisdiction, and those points made the citadels of constant attack upon our peace and property. No more unexceptionable testimony of the objects of the Republicans can be adduced than the avowals of their representative men. In 1858 Mr. Lincoln said: "I believe this Government cannot endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, . . . but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the farther spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward till it shall become alike lawful in all the States." Later in the same year Mr. Seward adopted and popularized the "irrepressible conflict" theory, and avowed the "one idea" of his party to be "resistance to slavery and devotion to freedom." In the same speech, he declared that the secret of assured success lay in the fact that it was a party of one idea --- "the idea of equality --- the equality of all men before human tribunals and human laws." At Albany, while stigmatizing southern citizens as "an oligarchy," a "privileged class," he says that slavery "will be overthrown, either peacefully and lawfully under the Constitution, or it will work the subversion of the Constitution, together with its own overthrow. Then the slaveholders would perish in the struggle. The change can now be made without violence, and by the agency of the ballot-box.... We must restore the principle of equality among the members of the States --- the principle of the sacredness of the absolute and inherent rights of man." At Lansing, advocating the election of Lincoln, he says: "You, then, come to the great question of the irrepressible conflict between freedom and slavery. Those who think that a nation can be wise and prosperous and happy that retains slaves will have another opportunity at the next Presidential election to secure the machinery by which it can be done. On the other hand, all of us who have enlisted in this great civic contest, on which the eyes of the whole world are set, will then find that all we have to do is to take care that we do not suffer differences among ourselves or any other cause to divide us, and one single administration will settle this question finally and forever."
In the same speech, he says, "I will favor as long as I can, within the limits of constitutional action, the decrease and diminution of African slavery in all the States." At an earlier day, in a speech in Ohio, he says that slavery "can and must be abolished, and you and I must do it." Similar quotations might be multiplied ad nauseam from Greeley, Lovejoy, Sumner, and others, but I close this branch of the argument by referring you to the Chicago platform --- the magna charta of Republicanism --- which reaffirms the "self-evident" truths of the Declaration of Independence; makes the maintenance of the principles "essential to the preservation of our Republican Institutions"; declares the normal condition of the Territories to be free-soil, and denies the authority of Congress, of a territorial legislature or of any individuals, to give legal existence to slavery in any territory of the United States. The Republicans, in the use of general phrases, always include the slave. When they speak of "equality" and "freedom" and "liberty," they mean the equality and freedom of southern slaves. I close the volume of irrefragable testimony, and if any one in this audience now doubts that the Republicans, with Lincoln at their head, intend to abolish slavery in the States, he would not believe though one rose from the dead.
CONSEQUENCES OF ABOLITIONISM
It would be supererogation to paint, if I had the power, the consequences of emancipation. To the negro it would be savage cruelty. At the North, driven into poverty and vice, he stands a perishing monument of the incapacity of his race and of the heartless selfishness which conferred liberty and starvation. The white man is stimulated to labor by its returns. The black man will not work save by compulsion, and pauperism and crime are the results of his unhindered idleness. The West India islands furnish a conclusive refutation of all anti-slavery theories. In Lewis' West Indies, written before emancipation, it is said, "as to the free blacks, they are almost uniformly lazy and improvident; most of them half starved and only anxious to live from hand to mouth.... As to a free negro hiring himself out for plantation labor, no instance of such a thing was ever known in Jamaica." Six hundred and thirty-three thousand blacks were liberated in the West Indies at an expense of $100,000,000, yet the products have nearly ceased except what arises from the substituted labor of the Coolies. Nearly a fourth part of the population of Trinidad are returned in 1852 as living in idleness.
INTEREST OF NON-SLAVEHOLDERS IN SLAVERY
Unreflecting partisans have sometimes insinuated, rather than openly expressed the opinion, that non-slaveholders are not interested in the institution of slavery. No greater or more mischievous mistake could be made, and a few suggestions will show it. The most perplexing problem to modern governments is the relation between labor and capital. Nothing is so terrible to England, nothing so fearful to France, nothing awakens such serious apprehensions with the thoughtful and far-seeing in the populous portions of the North. Laws are passed regulating labor, fixing wages, restricting capital and lubricating the friction between clashing labor and capital. Between the two opposing forces in free society, there is a constant tendency to collision. In Europe standing armies, and restricted suffrage, and artificial privileged classes, and sumptuary laws, and perpetual governmental interference, keep the interests of labor in subordination. In the North, facility of emigration to the fertile and unoccupied West and the conservative influence of slavery have mitigated the severity of the conflict, significant premonitions of the irrepressibility of which are occasionally heard in the "strikes" of the operatives and the bated whisperings of "bread or blood." Where slavery does not exist, the antagonism between labor and capital is everywhere felt, and it is mitigated or aggravated by the mode of employment of both. The warfare "between opposing and enduring forces" is inseparable from the unadjusted relation. There is no sympathy, no recognized and felt moral relation between the combatting forces and capital tyrannizes over labor, depriving it of political rights, of personal freedom and wresting from its hard earnings all but a scanty subsistence.
The difficult problem finds a solution in African slavery, and here labor and capital are identified. The two are blended in harmony and political irreconcilability is adjusted by the providential and predestined distinction of color. Profits and wages in our social organization are blended. The slaveholder, owning both capital and labor in the negro, is interested in receiving for his labor a remunerating return, and hence the wages of mechanics and field-laborers in the South are higher than at the North. Besides, no matter how the price of produce may fluctuate, the slaveholder makes his largest possible crop, as his negroes must be clothed and subsisted. Labor is not turned loose adrift in times of pecuniary depression, and thus all classes of the community and every profession, the lawyer, the merchant, the overseer, the mechanic, the physician, the preacher, are interested in the products of slave labor. In the North, social distinctions are defined by the rich and the poor. In the South, color draws the ineffaceable line of separation. In Europe, to preserve the wall of partition, privileged classes are created and voting is confined to a favored few or prohibited altogether. In the North, like distinctions would be made but for connection with the South. Putting out of view, in the event of abolition, the abhorrent degradation of social and political equality, the probability of a war of extermination between the races or the necessity of flying the country to avoid the association, it is susceptible of demonstration, that those whom the abolitionists stigmatize as "the poor whites of the South" are more interested in the institution than any other portion of the community. Thank God, they cannot be duped by the wiles of their enemies, and none are more ready when the occasion demands to
OBJECTIONS TO RESISTANCE
A plea is interposed by some hopeful southern men against resistance, that the President elect and his party in Congress, being sworn, will administer the Government in accordance with the Constitution. Did it never occur to such persons, that, without State remedies, the Constitution is what the President and majority in Congress determine it to be; that the standard of rights and measure of obligations are their will and discretion; that different rules of interpretation prevail; that a "higher" and more imperative law than the Constitution is recognized; that State legislators of the same party, equally sworn, have nullified the Constitution; that the constitutionality of property in the labor of a slave is denied; that the Constitution is said to be based upon the Declaration of Independence which affirms the inalienable right of black and white men to freedom; that slavery is so peculiar and sensitive, it cannot long survive the active hostility of the Government, "even though the hostile action be confined to a systematic use of the powers of the Government for the purposes of its destruction, and to a systematic abdication of the powers of protection"; that numerous clauses of the Constitution under Black Republican torture can be perverted by hate or interest to authorize direct interference in the States; and that some means, sooner or later, will be found of "striking a fatal blow at slavery in spite of the Constitution and of the independent power of the States over the subject."
Another more plausible objection to resistance is found in the fact, that Lincoln has been elected by a popular majority, in accordance with the forms of law and the Constitution. A constitution implies fundamental rules as the guaranties of the rights and liberties of a free people. It means something more than lifeless formalities --- than words without life-giving power. The outward form may be preserved while the spirit is extinct. Tyranny of the worst character may be perpetrated with its machinery and technicalities. The forms of the Roman Commonwealth were retained after the Government had become a hated despotism, and the image of liberty was stamped on the coins of Nero. Madame Roland, when led to the guillotine, exclaimed, 0 Liberty, how many crimes are committed in thy name! Empty technicalities will not preserve freedom. The Constitution interpreted and administered by our enemies may become the instrument of oppression. It may be the sword of justice or the sword of vengeance. Seward, in one of his speeches, suggests the power of amendment, which may be made under the "forms" of the Constitution, as a mode of accomplishing abolition through the agency of the Constitution.
It is suicidal to defer action until the commission of what is not very intelligibly termed "an overt act." The Republican party is a standing menace. Its success is a declaration of war against our property and the supremacy of the white race. The election of Lincoln is the overt act. The law justifies the taking of life in advance of injury, when the killer was under such apprehensions as would influence a reasonable mind. The like rule of self-preservation applies to a people endangered.
SOUTH UNDER DOMINION OF FOREIGN PEOPLE
The possession of the Government by a hostile, sectional party, places our destinies under the control of another and distinct people. To the slaveholding States it is a foreign government, which understands not our condition, defers not to our opinions, consults not our interests, and has no sympathy with our peculiar civilization. The South had no agency in putting the administration in power, its public opinion will not be represented. It will be organized and throw its patronage in opposition to an institution that enters into the very texture of our social and political being. It is just such a government as incited the Revolutionary patriots to throw off British allegiance. They denied the right of a foreign people, of the same blood, language, religion and government, to legislate for them. They spurned the mockery of a partial representation in Parliament, remembering the condition of Ireland, and knowing that every separate community, every minority interest, must have within its own control some self-protecting power. From the origin of this Government, there have existed in the North and South opposing political principles. The ideas of the duties and powers of the Government are essentially different. They have divided not merely upon policy of measures, but upon the theory and nature of our political system. Ordinarily a Southern Whig was nearer to a Southern Democrat than to a Northern Whig, and vice versa. Our social institutions are peculiar and affect our political character. Our productions are different and require different legislation. In our intercourse with foreign nations, the same antagonism of interests exhibits itself. The election of Lincoln "has developed into excited hostility" and made apparent these contradictions, and the South-her social institutions, her peculiar property, her political ideas, her interests, domestic and international -is placed in entire and helpless dependence upon hostile Northern majorities. Our industrial policy and commercial connexions and foreign relations are dependent on the will of a people separate from and hostile to us.
Black-Republican ascendancy is not a sudden and unpremeditated attack upon us. It is deliberate and with forewarning, and "in contempt for the obligation of law and security of compacts, evincing a deadly hostility to the rights and institutions of the Southern people and a settled purpose to effect their overthrow." Nor have we "been wanting in attentions to our Northern brethren. We have warned them, from time to time, of attempts made by their legislatures to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances" of our Union and the solemnity of their engagements. "We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which would inevitably interrupt our connexions and correspondence." We have said in all the forms in which the declaration could be made, that we would not submit to the election of an Abolitionist to the Presidency. Our public men and presses have repeated it, in and out of season. Our legislatures, in more solemn modes, have declared it. What have we not done to make known to the North our fixed purpose not to submit to the humiliation, dishonor, and ultimate ruin of allowing our Government to pass into the hands of a sectional party, whose bond of union is a hatred of our institutions and a determination to destroy them? "They have been deaf to the voice of justice and consanguinity." They have responded to these declarations with sneers, ridicule, defiance, contemptuous insults, grosser violations of the Constitution, and now, as the very culmination of insult and injury, by electing an Abolitionist to the Presidency. Federal officers are to be appointed in all the Southern States, who will first be apologists for Lincoln, then palliate and justify and approve, and then become little centres or nuclei for Republican organizations. For one, I shall never acquiesce in the insult and degradation. I would pay millions for defence, and dare everything earthly, before I would voluntarily submit to such dishonor.
The Legislature of Alabama, with patriotic unanimity, declared that "to permit such seizure of the Government by those whose unmistakeable aim is to pervert its whole machinery to the destruction of a portion of its members, would be an act of suicidal folly and madness almost without a parallel in history," and therefore they "deemed it their solemn duty to provide, in advance, the means by which they may escape such peril and dishonor," and accordingly authorized the Governor to call a Convention upon the happening of the election of a Black Republican. All honor to our General Assembly for the thoughtful sagacity and patriotism which provided for averting the peril and dishonor!
DECISIVE ACTION IMPERATIVE
Lord Bacon said, that "it were better to meet some danger half-way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches, for if a man watch too long, it is odds he will fall asleep." Instead of meeting half-way, we have tarried long and sought to avert danger by argument and appeal and remonstrance, and have essayed to overthrow at the ballot-box. In all these we have failed. The remedy of appeal to fraternal feeling and constitutional obligation -made under the most advantageous circumstances, with a fusion of the opposition to Abolition in every doubtful State -has proved inefficacious; and now decisive measures are more politic, and "from the nettle, danger, we may pluck the flower, safety." It would be uncandid to conceal the opinion, that there may be dangers and probable sufferings ahead. Submission involves inequality with the North, oppressive taxation, foreign rule, emancipation of negroes and equality with them at the South. Resistance may bring temporary depreciation of property, commercial depression, and possibly the casualties of war. The heroes of '76 encountered all these and more to prevent the domination of a foreign people. It was attempted to stave off the war of 18l2 by dilatory restrictive and embargo measures, but the people demanded a declaration of war to protect New England men and New England property, and preserve national honor. When duty is plain, "perils are privileges," and if Federal coercion be attempted (as is threatened), and war ensue, "it only proves to what an extent we have submitted before we venture to resist-only demonstrates the power of that unrighteous authority against which we are forced to arm."
Resistance, however, to the last resort, involves less evils than many conjure up. There is no true analogy between such a procedure on our part and revolution, even bloodless, in Great Britain or France. As each nation is there consolidated into one government, there must be a suspension of authority and usurpation of power. Provisional, temporary, and irregular governments must be established to prevent anarchy and social disorder. Here, we have not a consolidated nation, but distinct, sovereign States, fully equipped with all the machinery of regularly and lawfully constituted governments, and wholly independent of the Federal agency at Washington. We have in Alabama an Executive, a Legislature, a Judiciary, an Army, and internal order will be preserved by local authorities, which are not in subordination to Federal, and are alone responsible to the people of the State. Of all fantasies that ever disturbed an excited brain, the most ridiculous is the idea, that Liberty is dependent upon the continuance of this Government, and that dissolution will be succeeded by despotism. Practical political liberty has its highest illustration and best security in representation, and this vital principle, while it may be modified by external circumstances, is too thoroughly ingrained in the national character to be surrendered without a contest such as the world has never witnessed.
RESOURCES OF THE SOUTH, AND NORTHERN DEPENDENCE
In this connection it may be pertinent to examine into the operations of the Federal Government, and of northern connection, and ascertain how much the South is annually drained and depleted by what is paid to the North. The facts prove that the southern States have been to the North as the conquered province were to Rome, when the tributes exacted from them were sufficient to defray the whole expenses of the Government. A report of the Secretary of the Treasury for 1838 shows that, in the five years, 1833-'37, out of $102,000,000 of expenditure, only $37,000,000 were in the slave States; yet, during the same years, they paid $90,000,000 of duties to $17,500,000 paid by the free States. The amount of customs collected, says Kettell, in the past seventy years, reaches eleven hundred millions of dollars, a large portion of which was disbursed at the North. Bounties to fisheries have amounted to over $13,000,000, and have been paid mostly to Maine and Massachusetts. Like unjust inequalities are exhibited in the appropriation of public lands, in the light-house system, in the collection of customs, in the internal improvement system, in the erection of court and custom houses, and hospitals and post offices. An intelligent writer says, that the heads of federal expenditure show that while the South has paid seven-ninths of the taxes, the North has had seven-ninths of their disbursements. The North furnishes, in great degree, our carriers, importers, merchants, bankers, brokers, and insurers. One of the ablest statisticians and political economists in America, Mr. Kettell, a northern man, estimates the annual amount of means sent North by southern owners and producers, as the sum of their dealing with the North, at $462,560,394. The South furnishes six-sevenths of the freight for the shipping of the country, while the North supplies one-seventh. The South pays $36,000,000 per annum to the shipping interest for the transportation of the products of slave labor. "All the profitable branches of freighting, brokering, selling, banking, insurance, &c., that grow out of southern products, are enjoyed in New York. The profits that importers, manufacturers, bankers, factors, jobbers, warehousemen, carmen, and every branch of industry connected with merchandizing, realize, from the mass of goods that pass through northern cities, are paid by southern consumers." The same careful authority approximates the annual load which southern industry, dependent on southern labor, is required to carry, at $231,500,000, and distributes among bounties to fishermen, customs, importers, manufacturers, shippers, agents, travellers, &c. It is this North grown rich from the earnings of slave labor, dependent for its prosperity and profits upon southern wealth, that has placed Lincoln and them that "hate us to rule over us." Jeshurun has waxed fat and kicked.
The South has more elements of strength and wealth,
more ability to sustain herself as a separate government than any
country of equal size in the world. In territorial area she has
850,000 square miles, more than the United States, prior to the
acquisition of Louisiana, and as large as Great Britain, France,
Spain, Prussia, and Austria. Her population is four times as
large as that of the colonies at the commencement of the
Revolutionary war, and is sixty per cent greater than that of the
whole United States, when we entered upon the war of 1812. She
has 9,000 miles of railroad, which has been mainly built with her
own capital. In the sixth year ending 1860 the South built more
miles of railroad than the West, but did not exhaust her means in
their reconstruction. The West was prostrate while the South was
never in a better condition; and in the crash of 1857 we saved
the North from ruin by sending her 1,600,000 bales of cotton,
which were sold for $65,000,000.
Mr. Kettell, to whom I am so much indebted, speaking of the dealings between the North and the South, says: "If we were to penetrate beyond a rupture, and imagine a peaceable separation, by which the North and South should be sundered without hostilities, we might contemplate the condition and prospects of each. From what has been detailed, as revealed from the returns of the census, it is quite apparent that the North, as distinguished from the South and West, would alone be permanently injured. Its fortune depends upon manufacturing and shipping; but it neither raises its own food nor its own raw material, nor does it furnish freights for its own shipping. The South, on the other hand, raises a surplus of food, and supplies the world with raw materials. Lumber, hides, cotton, wool, indigo --- all that the manufacturer requires --- is within its own circle. The requisite capital to put them in action is rapidly accumulating; and in the long run, it would lose --- after recovering from first disasters --- nothing by separation. The North, on the other hand, will have food and raw materials to buy, in order to employ its labor.... Both the South and West have vast natural resources to be developed, and the time for that development is only retarded by the present profit that the North derives from supplying each with those things that they will soon cease to want. The North has no future natural resources. In minerals, both the other sections surpass it; in metals, it is comparatively destitute; of raw materials, it has none. Its ability to feed itself is questionable. Its commerce is to the whole country what that of Holland once was to the world, viz., living on the trade of other people."
Upon the muster rolls the South has a million of militia, which would make the most effective military force in the world, as during a war slaves would produce the means of subsistence. Apprehension of general and successful revolt on the part of the slaves is a dreamy chimera. History furnishes no single instance of a successful protest by slave labor against lawful authority, while wars have been numerous and bloody between struggling labor and grinding capital, in other systems of society. During the existence of the Hebrews as a separate nation, whether as a commonwealth, a monarch, or as scattered tribes, their slave institutions were uninjured. Greece, amid all her conflicts, was never perplexed by slavery. Rome governed the world, and "the millions of slaves never changed an emperor nor lost a province." In our revolutionary war, the war of 1812, and Indian wars, slaves did not embarrass or impede, but rather strengthened our military operations.
SECESSION THE ONLY REMEDY
Should the southern States be driven to the necessity of forming a government, adapted to the condition of the society on which it is to operate, war will only result from a tyrannical attempt to coerce or subjugate. The southern States will commit no aggressions upon the North. They will simply withdraw from the dominion of a government which has become hostile and foreign, and has failed to subserve the purposes of its creation. The first Federal gun fired against a seceding State will touch a chord that will vibrate in every southern heart. The craven southern Congressman, who votes for a dollar or a musket or a law for such a purpose, will have an infamy akin to that of Arnold and Judas combined.
An election for delegates to a State Convention is to be held on the 24th of December. You should send your best men, combining wisdom, prudence, firmness, patriotism, and a stern determination never to submit to abolition domination. Can't we unite as has so happily been done in Montgomery and Dallas? Can't we bury the hatchet of party discord in the presence of the portentous cloud, black with fury and common ruin? Can't Bell men and Douglas men and Breckinridge men unite on three Delegates, to whom every citizen of this county will be willing to entrust his rights and his honor? As one, I should be willing to support men combining the characteristics I have described without requiring from them, in advance, any pledges as to the precise mode of resistance, leaving that to be decided by the circumstances, which shall exist, when the Convention meets. In assenting to this I make large concessions. My opinion, deliberate and carefully formed, is that Alabama owes it to her safety, her peace, her honor, to withdraw from the Government and provide new securities for the protection of her people. Cooperation will be had, but a convention of irresponsible delegates from the southern States to lay down the Georgia platform, as an ultimatum, will be taking steps backward from the position of all parties in 1850, and will result, in my judgment, in disastrous submission. With a full knowledge of all contained in that ultimatum, the North has "precipitated" this contest upon us; and, besides, the ultimatum suggested leaves untouched and unremedied the obnoxious legislation of Northern States which render impotent and valueless the fugitive slave law. To make a formal appeal to northern State to repeal those laws nullifying the Constitution would be an empty farce. They were passed with a full knowledge and in contemptuous disregard of the Constitution and our wishes, and are not likely, at our dictation and request, to be removed from the statute-books. The Vermont Legislature has recently, by an overwhelming majority, refused to abandon nullification and repeal the personal-liberty bill of that State. The New York Tribune, the most potent organ of abolitionism, pronounces the difference between the two sections on the question of the surrender of runaway negroes to be "radical, fundamental, irrepressible," and truly says that "any stipulation, however precise and solemn, that the fugitives who escape from slavery shall be generally caught and returned, will be a deception and a sham." New constitutional guaranties cannot be plainer, and will not be more effective, than the present ones. These temporizing expedients stick in the bark, and do not remedy the disease. The people are tired of this incessant agitation and strife, and properly demand a settlement which will be permanent, final, and not subject to speedy revisal.
My advice to Alabama is to act for herself, and seek the simultaneous co-operation of neighboring States, who will join her, not to propose terms to our enemy, but to secure permanent safety in a Southern Confederacy. I go from among you to fight your battles on another theatre --- to vindicate your honor --- to sustain the Constitution. God grant that the telegraphic wires may bring to me no such humiliating intelligence as that Alabama, in meek submission, has bowed the neck to abolition subjugation! What will be said in the future, if we eat our words and succumb to the foul wrong? How can I, as your representative, hold up my head and talk of southern honor, southern wrongs, southern rights? With what pitiful emptiness would all such gasconade fail upon the ears of our abolition rulers and masters! No, no, no! I rely with strong confidence the State of my allegiance and affections, and can say of her:
"My heart, my hopes, are all with thee;
My heart, my hopes, my prayers, MY tears,
My faith triumphant o'er my fears,
Are all with thee -are all with thee."