« ZurückWeiter »
the hands of the North, when acting, not as a party, but as a people, is then by no means a negative evil or disappointment, but a source of instant anxiety and dread. It is known it will be aggressive, and that its immediate object will be to attack the interests or institutions of the South. Oliphant remarks: “ Power in the hands of the South affects the patronage of a political party in the North ; but power in the hands of the North affects the happiness of almost every individual in the South. The stakes are not equal. The North are playing for the triumph of a party, the South for all they hold dearest to them.”
Let it not be assumed that we hold the North to be blameable for taking into its own hands the power that belongs to its numbers. The evil lies in the surrounding facts. The present circumstances of the Union, and the opinions of the age, conflict with a Constitution which was framed under conditions widely different. Both parties are now in a false position. The one maintaining and lauding a system that has become repugnant to the civilized world; the other seeking, some few of them, to carry out sincere convictions by means opposed to the Constitution,-most of them, to make use of a sentiment they do not share, to work with as a lever in the struggle for political supremacy
Holland and Belgium were united on the same grounds as the United States,-to obtain that defensive strength in union, which they had not separately; and the union was greatly to the
material advantage of both. But, as already observed, in a union of two powers, one must be supreme, and, sooner or later, the other finds this unendurable. There existed between the Belgians and the Dutch no conflicting social systems, no wide difference of temperament, no feeling of permanent dislike. True, there was a difference of race; but so there is between England and Wales. Different races may dwell together in perfect harmony so long as they are not rival powers. But rival powers, although of the same race, cannot coexist under the same government, unless the one be subservient to the other. So far the Northerners have been subservient to the South-little indeed to their credit. They now, very properly, desire to escape from this thraldom. Escape from it they can, but they also wish to reverse it, and that cannot be done.
Under all these circumstances it does not appear surprising that the people of the South should desire to govern themselves, and “ to be let alone.” This is all they have asked. We have seen how strong, how irresistible an impulse is the desire of independence when once thoroughly aroused; we have seen what bonds it broke through, when this same people revolted from the parent State. There were all those ties to restrain, there was no antagonism to repel ; here there are not the obli. gations, and there is the repugnance. Unquestionably, the Southern States have much more ground to demand the position of an independent power than the thirteen colonies could allege ;in extent, in numbers, in wealth, in commerce, in every element indeed of national strength. They are also, what the colonies never were—a united people. They have the plea of that example which the colonies set them. They believe in a constitutional right to separate, which the colonies could not allege. They act upon doctrines instilled as part of the national education, all of which impel in the direction they now take.
What indeed is the meaning of liberty, if the people of a vast empire, numbering in all twelve millions, are to be compelled to remain under a government against their will ? What is the advantage of being fettered together, in a Union of that hate, which relations alone can feel ? The fraternity of the French has been translated, “ Be my brother, or I kill you.” In what does this differ-_“ Remain in fraternal union with me, or I invade you, and take your life?” A desire for self-government none will deny as a natural product of American soil. Whether there were grounds for acting upon it, of sufficient weight, remains yet to be considered. The existence of such a desire will not be a justification for provoking the terrible evils of revolution, unless there be very grave causes, that seem to admit of no other manner of removal. Let us therefore consider the principal grievances that have been alleged as the grounds for carrying out this desire into action.
CAUSES OF DISRUPTION.—THE SLAVERY QUESTION.
DR. MACKAY, in his recent work, “ Life and Liberty in America,” remarks : “ The struggle between the North and South, of which the negro is made the pretext, is, as all the world knows by this time, a struggle for political power and ascendancy.” Agreeing entirely as to the fact, we differ in opinion as to its being so generally known. There are numbers in this country who do verily believe that the present conflict is between Slavery, and an effort to abolish it. Because the Northern are called Free, and the Southern Slave States, their respective names have been adopted in the minds of many as symbols of the principle at issue. And there have not been wanting advocates of the Union, who have thought it right, or expedient, to profit by our repugnance to Slavery, and to take advantage of our assumed ignorance of American affairs, to enlist a large amount of sympathy in their favour, by fostering this popular impression, and giving this colour to the contest.
All know the advantage of a telling “cry.” This is not only a telling one, but many surrounding circumstances give to it the appearance of reality. Yet we shall find it a complete delusion, and in its results a deplorable one. Its effect is to defeat the very object, the just and benevolent desire of those who are thus misguided. They wish to remove the fetters from the slave, and yet are led by this error to support the direct means of riveting them. But before we examine in what way, and how far, Slavery has really contributed to the disruption of the Union, it may be well to inquire briefly into its real condition in the United States. The subject is one in which feeling becomes so intermingled with reason as to render it difficult of discussion with perfect calmness. And there is none upon which feeling once aroused becomes inflamed with more violent excitement.
In this country the wrongs of Slavery were denounced with a fervid eloquence, of which the vibrations are yet lingering on the ear. Since the removal of the evil from amongst ourselves, we have striven to atone for our share in the wrong, by patient, long-persevering efforts to eradicate the Slave Trade,- efforts that have been little rewarded, unless it be in the consciousness of a right employment of unselfish power. And these efforts have maintained in active existence the sentiments that pervaded the country in the days of Wilberforce and Clarkson. As no difference of opinion exists upon the subject here, there are none who need to be converted by exaggerated statements,