« ZurückWeiter »
* - W . A B00K TEACHING MORE THAN IT MEANs. Men who essay to write on controverted points should take heed, lest in their zeal for one side or the other they prove a great deal more than they intended. They may aim their arrows at one mark, and shoot so far as to hit a very dif. ferent mark. This has been the case, we think, with the author of a book entitled “The Sectional Controversy,” just published by Scribner, of this city. It purports to be an inquiry into the causes of the present distracting state of the
country, and to decide “which section of the
Union is responsible for the operation of those causes." Subtle and adroit in the use of its materials, it is yet pervaded by an obvious bias throughout, and favors conclusions which will be anything but acceptable to genuine lovers of the Union. We do not assert that the book is purposely dishonest: for the statements of the writer appear to be made in good faith; but we do say, that while it pretends to be historical, it furnishes a completely one-sided view of the great controversies which have divided our polities. We are given, for instance, at considerable length, the arguments in support of Calhoun's theory, that the federal con
stitution is a mere compact between sovereign
states, but we are not given the logical and con
Vincing arguments by which Webster and others have opposed that theory. We are told, again, that the resistance of the North to the Fugitive Slave law was a wilful and fanatical encroachment upon the rights of the South, but we are not told of the profound constitutional and judicial principles on which that resistance was founded, apart from the humanitary bearings of the question. We are treated to Buchanan's and other
These positions, of course, we do not now * to controvert, and our object in noticing the book is to bring into distinct light its one principal and fundamental thought. It is this: that from the very origin of the government up to the present time, the people of the North and South have been divided by bitter sectional diversities of opinion, sentiment and action, which, however they may have been disguised or surren.
ered for a time, were sure to break out again on the first opportunity. These sectional difference "manifested in the Continental Congress, b :
g: a way to the necessity of united action in the | war of the revolution. They were not unknown
even to the revolutionary army, and required all || the moderation and energy of Washington
to quell their influence. They were powerfully
felt in the Constitutional Convention, and the con. stitution itself was but a compromise betweenthem. . There, as elsewhere, they gathered chiefly around the subject of slavery. Under the administration of Washington the leading measures, such as the duties on tonnage, the United States Bank, the as: sumption of state debts, were viewed entirely in a sectional light. John Adams's administration was opposed on the same ground. The anti-commer. cial legislation of Jefferson and the purchase of Louisiana, produced an outbreak almost of the eastern states. Madison, with all his wisdom, could not allay the excitement. Under Monroe the Missouri question came near shivering the Union. Nullification began under the tariff system of John Quincy Adams, which Jackson succeeded in defeating only by mingled conciliation and menaces of war. But on the heel of nullification Canne a fierce pro-slavery and anti-slavery discussion, which, on the various topics of abolition petitions, annexation of Texas, Wilmot proviso, Oregon territory, repeal of the Missouri Compromise, Fugi
tive Slave law, Personal Liberty bills, the orga
nization of Texas, the Dred Scott decision, and
others, has waxed fiercer and fiercer, until the
universal fire burst forth in Secession aud civil
Thus, for eighty years the question of slavery
has been a bone of contention between the sec
tions, giving color to all other questions, inflaming their animosities, disturbing legislation, periling the existence of the government, and leading finally to a tremendous eruption of fratricidal pasBions, and a malignant armed struggle. All the wisest and best men of the nation have tried again and again to allay the strife; compromises were inserted in the organic law; compromises have been enacted by Congress; compromises were recommended by the Presidents; compromises became the shibboleth of all the great parties; and yet, in spite of every effort, the original feud has gone on deepen. ing and widening until the parties to it are array face to face in the dread lines of battle, At th * the excitement is broader, the hatred i *r, the determination of both sides firme than they ever were before. A year and a half ( the bloodiest conflicts, which have involved no only the whole nation, but the civilized, world in their vortex, has rendered the contest only the more direct, more obstinate, more energetic and more impossible of a pacific solution. Now, let us ask, if this view of our past history, "hich the author of the work before us presents, be the true one, what are the inferences as to the *se we should pursue in the future? Shall we Patch-up other compromises to be followed by other more sanguinary wars? Are other compromises probable after the exacerbations, the resent* and the ruins of the present collision? Is a Union desirable on the basis of a Famility to per- " *-*-*___*:
: "tual quarrelling, clashing and fighting? Wo " | wn
not stand, so long as it should stand, on the tink of an immediate dissolution? Would not ur whole national existence become feverish, recarious, feeble, and destined inevitably to end * ther in the despotism of a strong military chief, * | r in the spasmodic revolutionism of the Central * merican states? We confess we do not see how "| ny man of reflective mind, and familiar with the gitations of the past, as they are developed in the ork before us, can hope for any permanent reonciliation of the sections on any political grounds et devised or that can be devised. Look at the facts. A small but powerful class at he South has succeeded in getting its own interests incorporated into the laws of separate states and recognised by the federal government. It has | derived from this fact great social distinetion und enormous political power. It owns the land, t rules legislation Can it be supposed, then, that in oligarchy of this sort will consent to relinquish ts privileges so long as a single slave remains? )n the other hand, the people of the North, genuine leirs of the nineteenth century, and sharing the onvictions and sentiments of the civilized world, re more and more assured that slavery is a moral wrong, a political curse, an economical incubus, and | | n every other aspect a terrible evil. Can you | hange these convictions, can you eradicate these sentiments? Until you can, the antagonism of North and South must continue. There is but one alternative in the case: either the North and South must separate—or the single cause of all their past and present calamities must be removed. But a peaceful separation is, in our view of it, utterly impracticable. A thousand causes, geographical, ethnological, commercial and moral, determine and devote this continent to poli'tical unity. If the people of it have not been able to live in peace under the sacred and intimate bonds of constitutional obligation, will they live in peace . (the same causes of division remaining) under the looser ties of mere treaty obligation? If, with a common language, common traditions, common institutions, and universal interchanges of social intercourse and of trade, we have fallen out, how shall we agree when other national remembrances and aims, other institutions, other laws, social exclusions and commercial restrictions shall prevail? Europe, broken into distinct nationalities, has scarcely seen for eighteen centuries a single half century of peace. Shall we fare better? No; disunion, if it were A possible, would be ceaseless, endless war. : What, then, of the other branch of the alterna(tive—the removal of the cause of our trouble, the extinction of slavery 3 Should it not be tried? The slave states, by revolting against the authority of the national government, by organizing hostile armies, by fighting battles, and by inviting the aid of foreign monarchs to destroy the republic, have assumed a belligerent attitude, which places them in the position of public enemies. They are amena. ble to all the rules and penalties of the international law of belligerents. Under that code we
have a right to confiscate their slaves, as property, as rapidly as our armies occupy their territory, or to accept of the services of their slaves as allies. Without doing violence to the constitution of the country, without infringing an iota or tittle of its provisions for a state of peace, we may exert the transcendant prerogative of war. It would seem as if the Divine Providence, in very pity of our political disabilities, has cast upon us this military potency. We are asked and commanded to fulfil our native
destiny, by making real that glorious ideal of human
freedom with which we began. Our young republic, heretofore, like Milton's tawny lion, “pawing to get free his hinder parts," may yet “break his bonds, and rampant shake his divided mane.” Then disenthralled, homogeneous, united, instinct with a new life and energy and goodness, she would become, in fact, what she once was and still is in aspiration, the home of truly democratic institutions; the nurse of every just and generous policy, domestic and international; the asylum of the earth's oppressed; the hope and model of mankind, to which the heroes of the old world, in their stern struggles for larger light and liberty, would turn
for solace, and statesmen, in their boldest schemes
of human grandeur, look for guidance.
In the presence of that superb experiment by which, in another part of the globe, we have seen ten millions of serfs peacefully transferred into ten millions of free peasants, it is worse than idle, it is almost shameful, to debate the feasibility of turning four millions of slaves into freedmen. Have we yet to learn that the surest guaranty of order is liberty under equal laws? But of this topic a word to-morrow.
THE SectionAL Corrhovensy; -., Passages in the Political History of the United States, including the Causes of the War between the 8:ctions. By Willian Chauncey Fowler, LL.D. New York: Scribner. 1862. 8vo. pp. xii-H269.
Mr. Fowler is indifferent to the moral question of slavery, and ignores it. Nor does he care to consider what new rights and duties the war has created. He seeks to interpret the history of the country as if there had been no war; to throw the legal onus of blame upon the North, and disa'ay the South shining with that legal righteousn. which is to hide the substantial crimes that lurk beneath. If the argument that he has juggled together means anythirg, it is that the North has viola'ed the rights of the South, and that the South was therefore justified in seceding.
It will require more ability and industry than that of this immoral doctor of laws to establish a proposition whose premiss is a lie, and whose coaclusion justifies a crime.