Letter to the Daily Missouri Republican, August 4, 1860

Nick Sacco is a Park Ranger at the Ulysses S. Grant National Historic Site outside St. Louis.  He operates a blog called Exploring the Past, which I occasionally read.  One entry from early May, 2017, referenced this letter from a Missouri slaveholder to the Daily Missouri Republican which, despite its name, was the leading Democratic paper in Missouri at the time.  Nick graciously sent me scanned images of the complete letter so I could put it on this website.

A Word to the Wise

In a spirit of modesty, but of earnestness and sincerity, I desire to say a few words to my brother slaveholders of Missouri concerning the issues of the approaching Gubernatorial and Presidential elections.  No one of us, I hope, is so "clean daft" that he desires to beat out his own brains.  Yet there is a chance for us to do worse than this in the coming contest, and not only ruin ourselves, but entail misery upon those who follow us.  But how can this be done?  Look for a moment at the condition of the country, and it will be apparent to the dullest comprehension.  Three parties are contending for supremacy and rule in the American Republic.  One, headed by Seward, Lincoln, and others of that class, seek for Congressional intervention to drive slavery out of all the territorial possessions of the Confederacy, and ultimately from the States themselves.  Another party, led by Yancey, Slidell & Co., invoke the same intervention to force slavery into the Territories, whether the people want it or not.  The third, and great conservative and true Democratic party of the Union, whose representative head is Stephen A. Douglas, desire, in this matter as in all others, to leave the people to regulate their domestic affairs as may best suit their interests.  This last principle is as certain to prevail as that there is progress in human liberty.  Call it by all the odious names you please, it will make no difference.  The principle is in the hearts of the people, and they will cherish it as fondly and defend it as fiercely, as they did the right to war against tyrants.  "Whosoever fails upon this stone shall be broken, but woe unto him upon whom it falls, for it shall grind him to powder."

There is another party, if it can be called one, without platform or clearly defined principles, which, chameleon like, takes its color from the light in which it is seen, and is ready to conform itself to the local sentiment of either North or South.  In the coming contest it will occupy the same position, and exercise the same power as in 1856.  Then it carried the vote of one State, and it may possibly do the same thing again.  If this party could by any possibility succeed, its future would be uncertain, for no one can predict the course that would be taken by its leaders.  Under these circumstances, the patriot must look for hope amongst the three parties first named.  Shall we look for protection and security to our interests in the ascendency of Black Republicanism?  When the lamb is nursed and fondled by the she wolf, we may look to such a source for the defense of our rights.  Shall we trust to the opposing faction, under the lead of avowed disunionists, with BRECKINRIDGE for their agent?  If their motives were not as transparent as “thin air,” and their designs as treasonous as those of Arnold or Burr, it would be worth while to show that their principles are directly at war with the rights of the people, the doctrines of Democracy, the hopes of human progress.  The leaders of this faction, in their blind and vaulting ambition, seek for nothing but their personal aggrandizement in the disruption of the American Union.  It needs no labored argument to prove this assertion.  Read their letters and papers, as full of arrant treason as an egg is of meat; listen to their concerted movements to "precipitate a revolution," and then ask yourselves if you are ready to surrender your dearest interests to the keeping of such men.  Mark another fact:  They do not expect to succeed by the election of their own candidate, but by creating a diversion sufficient to insure the election of LINCOLN, thus gaining what they think will be a sufficient pretext to "fire the Southern heart," and hasten civil war and disunion.  Slaveholders of Missouri, are you quite ready for this crisis?  Are you ready to follow the lead of a few disaffected politicians and time-serving office holders, to your own inevitable destruction?  Suppose they succeed in their traitorous scheme, and induce a half dozen of the cotton States to revolt, are you prepared to go with them?  Are you willing to become the advance guard of the Gulf States, and make Missouri the battle ground of niggerdom for the next five or ten years?  Are you willing to make the great central States of the American Republic---the fairest country in Christendom---the scene of intestine broil and tumult, ending in the voluntary exile of every slaveholder in the commonwealth?  Are you willing to fight the battles of these gentlemen Secessionists, receive all the wounds, suffer all the losses, and pay all the expenses, while they remain in quiet, far away from the scene of mischief and slaughter[?].  If you wish to “precipitate the revolution,” and hasten this “good time,” I see no better way to accomplish the object than by supporting the bolters’ ticket, either State or national.  If you wish to accomplish the Black Republican prophecy, and make Missouri a free State in the next five years, you cannot do it better than by voting for Hancock Jackson[*] and John C. Breckenridge.  Don't you see how these Black Republicans egg you on by shouting hurra for the Secession candidates, and at the same time laugh in their sleeves, and hold jubilees to exult over our folly?  But it is not too late to remedy this matter, and on next Monday, I trust and believe that every slaveholder, who desires to see Missouri “possess her soul in patience,” and her slaves in peace for generations to come, will vote against every candidate who is connected, directly or indirectly with the disunion propagandists of the South.


*  Hancock Lee Jackson was the Southern Democratic candidate for Governor of Missouri in 1860.  He lost to Claiborne Fox Jackson.  The fact that they have the same last name is confusing, and I appreciate Nick Sacco clarifying it for me.