Tuesday, November 24, 2015

November 24, 1860: "The Slave Trade and the Constitution"

Henry J. Raymond of New York

Earlier in the autumn of 1860, William Lowndes Yancey, the spiritual godfather of secessionism, had undertaken a speaking tour of the North to argue in favor of the rights of slave holders and the South generally. The November 24, 1860 edition of the New York Times carried a letter by Henry J. Raymond in response to many of Yancey's claims. Raymond was the editor of the Times as well as one of its founders.

Raymond effectively refutes Yancey's false assertion that the Northern states did anything more than tolerate the slave trade during the negotiations that led to the framing of the U.S. Constitution. After noting that Yancey was treated courteously during his visit to the North while no one holding the opposite view would even be allowed to speak in the South, Raymond shows that Massachusetts accepted the extension of the slave trade for twenty years as the price of including South Carolina and Georgia in the new union. Raymond also pretty effectively discredits the "Cotton is King" speech in an aside near the end of his letter. Raymond closes by leveling a charge that Yancey's true goal is the expansion of slavery and the resumption of the slave trade, and he alleges that threats of disunion are the lever by which Yancey works for his ultimate goal.
THE SLAVE-TRADE AND THE CONSTITUTION; A Letter in Reply to Hon. W.L. Yancey on the Prohibition of the Slave-trade. A Vindication of the Truth of History Massachusetts and the Northern Colonies.

NEW-YORK, NOV. 23, 1860.

Hon. W.L. YANCEY -- Dear Sir:

I have read your reply of Nov. 9 to an editorial article in the TIMES of Oct. 27, in which you claim to have corrected what you style the "hostile and malignant criticisms of two leading editors in the Black Republican cause, viz.: Mr. THURLOW WEED and Mr. HENRY J. RAYMOND," -- upon your speeches in the North during the recent Presidential canvass. As you have thus given the matter a personal direction, you will excuse me forgiving you a personal answer.

Let me say, in the first place, that you have no right to characterize those criticisms as either "hostile or malignant." They are perfectly fair and legitimate comments upon public speeches on public topics. Of all men, you should be the last to reproach your political opponents at the North with discourtesy. You spoke in nearly all our principal cities, to large audiences, two-thirds of whom had not the slightest sympathy with your views, or the least respect for the object you sought to accomplish. But you were heard with the most respectful attention. In no instance was there the slightest indication of personal disrespect; -- in no case were you interrupted, or even questioned on any point. You were heard everywhere with just as much deference and courtesy, as if every word you uttered had accorded fully with the opinions and sentiments of those you addressed. If you will contrast this reception with that which would have greeted any one of your opponents, who should attempt to address the people of your own section on the same subject, you will find no ground for claiming superiority over us in the matter of courtesy.

The object of your visit to the North was to vindicate the claim put forth by Southern politicians, of the right to increase and extend the institution of Slavery. You attempted this, in your speeches, first by showing, as a matter of history, that the framers of the Constitution regarded the increase of Slavery as desirable for the country, and made specific provision for it in the Constitution itself; and, secondly, by showing, as a matter of statistics, that Slavery is a benefit to the States in which it exists, and to the North through its trade with those States. Under the first head you asserted that Massachusets "took the lead," in the Convention that framed the Constitution, in "insisting" that the Slave-trade should not be prohibited until 1808, and afterwards in placing this clause beyond the reach of amendment. I have characterized this assertion as a perversion of the facts of history; -- and your letter of Nov. 9 is an attempt to vindicate your assertion against this criticism. It is not enough for you to show that Massachusetts assented to these measures. No one disputes or doubts that fact, -- nor did we need a missionary from Alabama to inform us of it. Your assertion was much broader, and its object was very different. You represented that Massachusetts, as the head of the Northern Colonies, "insisted" on continuing the Slave-trade for twenty years longer, for the specific purpose of "widening the basis of Slavery," and "increasing the number of slaves," -- while Virginia, as the head of the Southern Colonies, resisted the attempt. And you made this representation for the purpose of basing upon it the appeal to the people of the North, that, as their fathers had thus clearly declared their approval of Slavery, and provided for its increase, -- and had forced this increase upon the South, -- it was unjust for them, their descendants, to denounce and restrict it now.

Now, I did say that this line of argument showed that you were either very imperfectly informed in the history of the country, or very reckless and unscrupulous in the statement of facts. The first horn of the dilemma I abandon. Your quotations from the Madison Papers, -- and the sagacious manner in which you have weeded out from the passages relating to this subject everything which makes against your position, shows that you are not "imperfectly informed" on this subject. Nor is it quite lair to say that you are "reckless and unscrupulous" in your statements. Those moods imply a certain degree of indifference as to the truth or falsehood of statements made; while you are exceedingly careful, first to make a statement which is exactly the opposite of the truth, and then to make it plausible by scrupulously falsifying the public records by which it is to be tested. That I have full warrant for this serious charge, I shall prove by appending to this letter the full debate on that clause of the Constitution which relates to the prohibition of the Slave-trade, on which you base your statement, and from which you have pretended in your letter to quote evidence of its truth. You accuse me of having given "garbled extracts" from that debate. In order to show at whose door that charge justly lies, I copy your letter, including the debate as you have professed to quote it.

Now, you will see from this record, what you very well knew before, that neither Massachusetts, nor any other Northern State, "insisted" that the Slave-trade should not be prohibited by Congress until 1808; that on the contrary, they demanded that the general Government should have power to prohibit it at once; and that they yielded their consent to its continuance for twenty years, only to threats of secession on the part of South Carolina and Georgia, and for the purpose of securing the adhesion of those States to the Union. Mr. PINCKNEY in that debate declared, "South Carolina can never receive the plan if it prohibits the Slave-trade." Gen. PIKCKNEY said he "should consider the rejection of the clause as an exclusion of South Carolina from the Union." Mr. BALDWIN, of Georgia, said, "Georgia was decided on this point," and that "it might be understood in what light she would view an attempt to abridge one of her favorite prerogatives." Mr. WILLIAMSON, of North Carolina, "thought the Southern States could not be members of the Union if the clause should be rejected." Mr. RUTLEDGE said, "if the Convention thinks that North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia will ever agree to the plan, unless their right to import slaves be untouched, the expectation is vain." These quotations are all from the debate on this proposition. These declarations were made by leading Southern men, and were the turning points of the action of the Convention upon that clause. Yet, you have not quoted a single one of them in your citations from that debate. Why not? Because they would have rendered it impossible for you to attribute this action of the Convention, and of the Northern States, to the motive you had assigned -- namely, a desire to continue the Slave-trade, in order to "increase the number of slaves," and widen "the basis of slavery." If you had quoted them, they would have furnished the explanation of the sentences you quote from New England men. They would have shown that not a single man from Massachusetts or any other Northern colony, said one solitary syllable in favor of Slavery or of continuing the Slave-trade; -- and that their only motive for assenting to it at all was the fear that without such assent the formation of the Union would be impossible. And to induce them still further to yield their hostility to it, the Southern delegates held out hopes that, if the matter were left open, the Southern States themselves might prohibit the traffic. Mr. PINCKNEY said, "If the Southern States are left alone, they will probably of themselves stop importations:" -- and again, "If the States be left at liberty on this subject, South Carolina may perhaps, by degrees do, of herself, what is wished, as Virginia and Maryland have already done." Mr. BALDWIN said of Georgia, -- " If left to herself she may probably put a stop to the evil." It was by such alternate threats and promises that the Northern delegates were induced to assent to the compromise proposed by the Committee to which the subject was recommitted, -- namely that the trade should not be prohibited before 1800, -- and also to the amendment offered by Mr. PINCKNEY, of South Carolina, making it 1808.

It is impossible to suppose that you were ignorant of these facts, -- or that you could possibly have mistaken the motive of this action of the Northern delegates.

You quote from RUFUS KING the remark that "the subject should be considered in a political light only," and draw the inference that he and his State, as well as Connecticut, were indifferent to its moral aspects, which Virginia urged so warmly. You say:

"The prohibition was warmly supported on moral grounds by Virginia, -- and Connecticut immediately pronounced. 'Let every State import what it pleases,' -- while Massachusetts ably seconded Connecticut that it was 'to be considered in a political light only.'"

This is a very adroit arrangement of words, true in themselves, but so arranged as to convey a very gross and palpable falsehood. You represent Connecticut as following the moral protest of Virginia by the exclamation, "let every State import what it pleases," as if protesting against that moral view of the case, -- whereas Mr. ELLSWORTH used those words after Mr. RUTLEDGE, of South Carolina, had declared that "religion and humanity had nothing to do with this question," and that "the true question is whether the Southern States shall or shall not be parties to the Union;" -- and he added, as a salvo to his own mind, "the morality or wisdom of Slavery are considerations belonging to the States themselves." Mr. KING's remark was not made until the next day, and then related to what had been said of the refusal of South Carolina and Georgia to join the Union, instead of anything that had been said on behalf of Connecticut. If you had any desire to submit Mr. KING's sentiments on this whole subject, why did you not quote what he said upon it on the 8th of August, when the question of representation was under debate:

"Mr. KING had hoped that some accommodation would have taken place on this subject; that at least a time would have been limited for the importation of slaves. He never could agree to let them be imported without limitation, and then be represented in the National Legislature. Indeed, he could so little persuade himself of the rectitude of such a practice, that he was not sure he could assent to it under any circumstances. [Madison Papers, III., 1,262.]

You quote Gov. MORRIS, of Pennsylvania, as proposing to recommit the clause for the purpose of making a bargain between the North and South, -- and sneeringly say it was made a "subject of trade, and not of moral speculation." Let me commend to any to whom you may have given such an impression of his views, the following speech made by him on the same subject and on the same occasion:

From the Madison Papers, Vol. III., page 1263.

Mr. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS moved to insert "free" before the word "inhabitants." Much, he said, would depend on this point. He never would concur in upholding domestic Slavery. It was a nefarious institution. It was the curse of Heaven on the States where it prevailed. Compare the free regions of the Middle States, where a rich and noble cultivation marks the prosperity and happiness of the people, with the misery and poverty which overspread the barren wastes of Virginia, Maryland, and the other States having slaves. Travel through the whole continent, and you behold the prospect continually varying with the appearance and disappearance of Slavery. The moment you leave the Eastern States, and enter New-York, the effects of the institution become visible. Passing through the Jerseys and entering Pennsylvania, every criterion of superior improvement witnesses the change. Proceed southwardly, and every step you take, through the great regions of slaves, presents a desert increasing with the increasing proportion of these wretched beings. Upon what principle is it that the slaves shall be computed in the representation? Are they men? Then make them citizens and let them vote. Are they property? Why, then, is no other property included? The houses in this city (Philadelphia) are worth more than all the wretched slaves who cover the rice swamps of South Carolina. The admission of slaves into the representation, when fairly explained, comes to this; that the inhabitant of Georgia and South Carolina who goes to the Coast of Africa, and in defiance of the most sacred laws of humanity, tears away his fellow creatures from their dearest connections, and damns them to a most cruel bondage, shall have more votes in a government instituted for protection of the rights of mankind than the citizen of Pennsylvania or New-Jersey, who views with a laudable horror so nefarious a practice. He would add that domestic Slavery is the most prominent feature in the aristocratic countenance of the proposed Constitution. The vassalage of the poor has ever been the favorite offspring of aristocracy. And what is the proposed compensation to the Northern States for a sacrifice of every principle of right, of every impulse of humanity? They are to bind themselves to march their militia for the defence of the Southern States, for their defence against these very Slaves of whom they complain. They must supply vessels and seamen in case of foreign attack. The Legislature will have indefinite power to tax them by excises and duties on imports, both of which will fall heavier on them than on the Southern inhabitants; for the Bohea tea used by a Northern freeman will pay more tax than the whole consumption of the miserable slave, which consists of nothing more than his physical subsistence and the rag that covers his nakedness. On the other side, the Southern States are not to be restrained from importing fresh supplies of wretched Africans, at once to increase the danger of attack and the difficulty of defence; nay, they are to be encouraged to it, by an assurance of having their votes in the National Government increased in proportion, and are at the same time to have their exports and their slaves exempt from all contributions for the public service. Let it not be said that direct taxation is to be proportioned to representation. It is idle to suppose that the General Government can stretch its hand directly into the pockets of the people, scattered over so vast a county. They can only do it through the medium of exports, imports and excises. For what, then, are all the sacrifices to be made? He would sooner submit himself to a tax for paying for all the negroes in the United States, than saddle posterity with such a Constitution.

Does that look like making this a "subject of trade" merely? Does that look like "insisting" on a continuance of the Slave-trade for twenty years?

But I have said quite enough to show the utter falsity of your assertion that Massachusetts, as the head of the Northern Colonies, "insisted that the Slave-trade should not be prohibited by Congress until 1808," in order to "increase the number of slaves, and to widen the basis of Slavery." A few words now upon the other branch of this assertion, namely, that it was done against the wish of Virginia, as the representative of the Southern Colonies, and thus forced upon them.

It is true, and is greatly to her honor, that Virginia did resist the continuance of the Slave-trade. She had prohibited that traffic for herself, and urged its prohibition for all the States. But she did not do this as "the head of the Southern Colonies;" she was not acting on their behalf, nor had she their support. On the contrary, she was denounced, and her motives for it assailed then, as they have been since. "As to Virginia," says Gen. PINCKNEY, "she will gain by stopping the importations. Her slaves will rise in value, and she has more than she wants." This is very much in the vein of South Carolina comments upon Virginia now. It is quite in the spirit of your remarks at Montgomery, in 1858, when you advocated the reopening of the Slave-trade, and denounced the "old fogies" of Virginia -- JEFFERSON, MADISON and others -- who held opinions on this subject which are not now considered sound."

How the other Southern Colonies, regarded the proposition to prohibit the Slave-trade has been made apparent already. Maryland and Virginia had abolished the traffic. Delaware had none to abolish. The only other Southern Colonies were North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia and they distinctly refused to join the Union, if Congress were clothed with power to prohibit the Slave-trade. And it was that threat which induced Massachusetts and the other Northern Colonies to assent to the compromise proposed by the Committee.

So much for the manner in which this clause came into the Constitution. If historical records prove anything, they prove that it was inserted on the demand of the principal Southern Colonies, backed by a threat of secession if it were not granted; -- and that Massachusetts and the other Northern Colonies conceded it solely and exclusively for the sake of securing the adherence of those Colonies to the Union. Gen. PINCKNEY, in Convention, acknowledged "the liberal conduct" of the Eastern States on this occasion, and was willing to return it by concessions on the subject of commerce. You, on the contrary, attempt to distort it into an indorsement of Slavery and an approval of the Slave-trade. I submit to the public judgment whether you do not thus convict yourself of being utterly "unscrupulous" in the use of historical facts.

Now I might very well stop here, for what I have already said covers the ground of your letter. It settles the question as to the part taken by the Northern and Southern Colonies respectively in regard to the Slave-trade, and the motives by which each section was actuated. But as that was only an incidental point in your speech, permit me to refer to the other branch of your main argument, and the practical policy which it was intended to support.

You have been engaged now for several years in the endeavor to secure the repeal of the laws of Congress prohibiting the Slave-trade, and to restore the full freedom of that traffic to the Southern States. At the South you are seeking to accomplish that result -- precisely as South Carolina and Georgia sought the continuance of the trade in the Federal Convention, by menaces of disunion. At the North you held a different language. You asserted that the Fathers of the Republic -- the framers of the Constitution -- deeming an increase of Slavery desirable, provided for it by keeping the Slave-trade open until 1808. I have shown how utterly baseless -- how wanton a perversion of historical fact, -- that statement is, so far as Massachusetts and the other Northern colonies were concerned. I could prove, by a similar array of equally conclusive testimony, that the statement is just as false, so far as it assigns a motive to the action of the other colonies and to the leading statesmen of the whole country. You, probably, are not ignorant of the fact that on the 20th of October, 1774, the Continental Congress passed a preamble and resolutions solemnly pledging themselves, "under the sacred ties of virtue, honor and love of our country,"

"That we will neither import nor purchase any Slave imported after the first day of December next: -- after which time we will wholly discontinue the Slave-trade, and will neither be concerned in it ourselves, nor will we hire our vessels nor sell our commodities or manufactures to those who are concerned in it."

This was the tone and temper of the people at the outset of our national career. It was the policy which the framers of the Constitution desired to adopt. It was the same sentiment which prompted MASON and MORRIS and RUFUS KING and LUTHER MARTIN to denounce Slavery as a curse to the country, and to insist that the General Government should have power to check its growth by prohibiting its increase and stopping the Slave-trade at once and forever. But it is unnecessary to quote their declarations or enter upon any further historical inquiry on this subject. You have yourself conceded that the main obstacle which you encounter in your efforts to secure the reopening of the Slave-trade, lies in the fact that the fathers of the Republic were opposed to it. I have before me a copy of the speech made by you in the Southern Commercial Convention, held in Montgomery, May, 1858, on the subject of reopening the African Slave-trade; and in that speech I find you saying;
"If it were not for the names of MADISON, RANDOLPH, MASON and others, whose names have been quoted in order to frown down the presumption of a young man at this day for pretending to understand this subject, I would even now throw the lance of debate to any gentleman to stand up here and maintain that these laws were constitutional per se. I would to God every countryman of mine was disposed to judge of the issues between the North and South for himself, that the opinions of old fogydom could be utterly wiped out. * * * Will my friend (Mr. PRYOR) now say that Mr. JEFFERSON in his political ethics on Slavery was right? He cannot say so. Mr. JEFFERSON thought it would weaken the South, and, therefore, he was for the entire prohibition of the Slave-trade. The distinguished, venerable, practical and philosophical gentleman from Virginia (Mr. RUFFIN) knows that Mr. Jefferson was wrong in his ideas about Slavery. I need not expatiate on that subject, because it is a matter of history known to everybody. It that was the fact, there was among the framers of the Constitution, who were true to us in all the interests of the white man, a sentiment in relation to Slavery that is not entertained now.

Mr. PRYOR -- That is true.

Mr. YANCEY -- That is all I ask. Then I say that the old fogies of that day entertained opinions in relation to Slavery, which we of this day are unanimously agreed were not sound. * * * If I could get this body to divest themselves of the shackles that MADISON, JEFFERSON and MASON have thrown about them concerning Slavery, and could get them to understand that South Carolina is against any, even the most limited, prohibition of the Slave-trade, I should not fear their unbiased judgment."
So much for the historical part of the argument by which you endeavored to convince the people of the North that Slavery ought to be increased.

Your next point was to prove by statistics that Slavery is a great blessing to the country, because it had made the South much richer than Free Labor had made the North. And your argument was this: -- The wealth of any country is measured by its exports, -- that is, by the surplus of its products after its own wants have been supplied out of them. Now the South exports annually of her products to the amount of $200,000,000, while the North exports of hers only a little over $100,000,000. Therefore the South, which depends upon Slave Labor, is nearly twice as rich as the North which relies upon Free Labor. Without entering upon any detailed examination of this point, (although the more closely it is examined the more clearly will its sophistry appear.) it is enough to say that the fallacy lies in your skillful manipulation of the word exports. The exports of the North do really and truly measure the surplus products of the North; but the South exports her whole crop. She does not consume any of her cotton at home, -- or at least not enough to affect the argument; she exports the whole of it. Yet all the supplies which she draws from the North -- her cotton goods, her manufactured woolens, her plantation tools, her teas, silks and imported luxuries, a very large proportion of her bacon, her beef and other provisions -- all these are paid for out of the proceeds of her cotton crop, -- and generally in advance. She sends that crop to market burdened with the debt incurred for these supplies. Before she can claim that crop as exports, -- that is as the surplus of her products over her own consumption, -- she must deduct that debt. Now you go on to state in these very speeches, that these domestic purchases made at the North, to supply the wants of the Southern States, amount to nearly two hundred millions of dollars every year. Deduct that amount from the exports of the South, -- and then see how much you will have left, as the measure of the wealth of the Southern States.

But I shall not extend this letter, likely at best to be much too long, by any further comments upon this point. I send you with it the report of a speech made by me during the canvass, at Rochester, in which I have treated it somewhat more fully.

Leaving this branch of the subject, therefore, I propose to say something of the DISUNION MOVEMENT now in progress, of which I consider you, to a greater degree than any other man now living, the author and the head. As I desire to treat it somewhat fully, -- more so than the limits left me in this communication will permit, -- I shall make it the subject of a second letter; -- and in that letter I propose to show that the REOPENING OF THE AFRICAN SLAVE -- TRADE is the practical object which that movement is intended to accomplish; -- that it will be accomplished within the Union if the nation can be brought to consent to that measure, -- or to concede the principle of the Equality of the States in the sense in which you and those whom you represent understand that principle; -- and that if you fail in securing this concession, you propose the establishment of a new Confederacy resting on the African Slave-trade as the bond of its union, and the basis of its prosperity.

Your obedient servant,

My favorite part of this letter is when Raymond quotes Yancey to Yancey about the occasion when Yancey referred to James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and George Mason as "old fogies of that day." Not only was Yancey's interpretation of the U.S. Constitution out of step with the intentions of the founders, but Yancey was going about the country actively denouncing Madison, Jefferson, and George Mason as "old fogies."

November 24, 1860: "Message of the Governor of North Carolina"

John Willis Ellis

The November 24, 1860 edition of the Richmond Daily Dispatch reported a speech by North Carolina's Governor John Willis Ellis. While Ellis conceded that Lincoln's election was constitutional, he nevertheless called for a conference of the Southern states to discuss the situation.
Message of the Governor of North Carolina.

The message of Gov. Ellis, of North Carolina, read before the Legislature of that State on Tuesday, is received. The following abstract is interesting:

The actual debt of the State, on October 1st, was $9,129,505, besides a debt of $1,699,900, for which her faith is pledged. The receipts into the State treasury for the past two years are $1,310,884, and the estimated receipts for the next two years are $1,726,425. Of the railroad from Beaufort to Cowana, on the Tennessee line, (560 miles,) 318 miles have been completed and 50 miles let out. Its cost when finished will be $12,600,000. The Cape Fear and Deep River Canal has been opened 81 miles, to the centre of the Coal Fields, with an average depth of 8 feet and width of 65 feet. The Fayetteville and Western Railroad is completed to the Coal Fields; in Chatham county; the Wilmington, Charlotte and Rutherford Railroad is finished 75 miles from Wilmington and 25 miles from Charlotte. The first division of the Western North Carolina Railroad, extending from Salisbury to Morganten, a distance of 80 miles, has been completed to within eleven miles of its termination and the second division, from Morganton to the Western portal of the Blue Ridge Tunnel, a distance of 40 miles, let to contract, upon which the grading is now being executed.

It appears that from 1815 to 1836, a period of twenty years, the value of our real estate actually decreased, while there was only an increase of $2,100,000 from 1815 to 1850, a period of thirty-five years. From 1850 to 1860; ten years, the increase has been $70,400,000. Now, it will be recollected, that most of our works of internal improvement have been constructed since the year 1850. In that year we had but 250 miles of railroad, and that of a very imperfect character, while in the present year we have 834 miles of road in actual operation. The increased value of real estate since 1850, will alone yield a revenue, at the present rate of taxation, of $140,400. The number of schools and colleges in North Carolina are 8,738, and the number of scholars attending them 177,400. In consequence of the low price fixed by the Legislature of North Carolina for the service, the Governor has been unable to procure a Commissioner to run the boundary line between Virginia and that State.

In that part of the message referring to Federal relations he says, the ‘"Northern States have violated our rights to an extent that would scarcely have been borne by any other people on earth."’ The nullification laws sending emissaries among our slaves, the John Brown raid, and the refusal of the Governors of Iowa and Ohio to surrender the fugitives connected with it, are recalled, and the message adds:

The forbearance with which the South has borne these indignities and wrongs, has utterly failed to secure a corresponding forbearance upon the part of our aggressors. The spirit of fanaticism by which they are influenced, growing bolder by its lawless riot and unobstructed indulgence, has at last so far united the Northern masses as to enable them to seize upon the General Government with all its power of purse and sword. Two persons have been elected respectively to the offices of President and Vice President, exclusively by the people of one section of the country, upon a principle hostile to the institutions and domestic policy of the other. Neither of them received an electoral vote in all the fifteen Southern States, and neither could have uttered, in many of them, the political sentiments upon which they are elevated to power without subjecting himself to the penalties of the local criminal laws. A clearer case of a foreign domination as to us could not well be presented; and that it will be a hostile domination, past occurrences and the circumstances under which they have been elected, forbid us to doubt. That any people, having a due appreciation of the principles of liberty, could long submit to such a domination, it is impossible to suppose.

They now tell us that this election has been conducted according to the forms of the Constitution, and that therefore the people of the South should take no exception to the fact.--They, who themselves have utterly refused to be bound by that Constitution, now hold it up to us as a bond to secure us from defending our property and lives against their oppressions.

It is true, Abraham Lincoln is elected President according to the forms of the Constitution; it is equally true, that George the Third was the rightful occupant of the British Throne, yet our fathers submitted not to his authority. They rebilled not against the man, because of any defect of his title to the crown, but against the more substantial fact,--the tyranny of his Ministers and Parliament. That power ‘"behind the throne,"’ and which in the name of the throne attempted to deprive them of their liberties, is the one with which they grappled. So it is with us. It is not the man. Abraham Lincoln, that we regard, but the power that elevated him to office, and which will naturally maintain a controlling influence in his Administration. And can it reasonably be expected, that men who have totally disregarded their constitutional obligations, and proved so dangerous in the administration of their State Governments, will learn moderation by this new gratification of their lust of power and dominion?

When it is considered that the sentiment of hostility to African slavery is deeply fixed in the minds of the Northern, people — that for twenty-five years it has formed a part of their education — been inculcated in the family circle, and taught to them from the pulpit, as a leading principle of their religion, together with the duty of its practical enforcement ‘"everywhere and on every occasion,"’ it must be confessed that there exists but little ground upon which to rest a hope that our rights will be secured to us by the General Government administered at their hands.

This condition of public affairs, as was to have been expected, threatens the most deplorable consequences to the Confederacy. Already, it is rendered more than probable that several of the Southern States, in the exercise of the mutual rights of nations, will separate from the Federal Union before the termination of your present session. Such an occurrence would present a grave state of facts, commanding your most serious and solemn deliberations.

It cannot for a moment be supposed that we could submit to have the policy of the Abolition party, upon which their candidate for the Presidency has been elected, carried out in his Administration, as it would result in the destruction of our property and the placing the lives of our people in daily peril; and even though this should not be immediately attempted, yet an effort to employ the military power of the General Government against one of the Southern States, would present an emergency demanding prompt and decided action on our part. It can but be manifest that a blow thus aimed at one of the Southern States would involve the whole country in a civil war, the destructive consequences of which, to us, could only be controlled by our ability to resist those engaged in waging it.

The civilization of the age, surely, ought to be a sufficient guaranty for the prevention of so great a calamity as war; even though amid political changes of the magnitude of those going on around us. But, should the incoming administration be guilty of the folly and the wickedness of drawing the sword against any Southern State, whose people may choose to seek that protection out of the Federal Union which is denied to them in it, then we of North Carolina would owe it to ourselves — to the liberties we have inherited from our fathers — to the peace of our homes and families, dearer to us than all governments, to resist it to the last extremity.

Ours is a Government of public opinion, and not of force; and the employment of military force to control the popular will would, if successful, result in a galling and inexorable despotism.

The prevention, then, of civil war and the preservation of peace amongst us, are the great objects which North Carolina should resolve upon securing, whatever changes the Government may undergo.

In view of the perilous condition of the country, it is, in my opinion, becoming and proper that we should have some consultation with those States identified with us in interest and in the wrongs we have suffered; and especially those lying immediately adjacent to us. As any action of ours would of necessity materially affect them, it would be but consistent with the amicable relations that have ever existed between us, to invite them to a consultation upon a question that so deeply affects us all. From a calm and deliberate consideration of the best mode of avoiding a common danger, much good might result and no evil could.

In thus proceeding we would show to the world a disposition to exhaust every peaceable remedy for the solution of our difficulties and a firm determination to maintain our rights, ‘"in the Union if possible, and out of it if necessary."’

Such a step, too, would be but a becoming mark of respect to that considerable portion of the people of the non-slaveholding States who have ever been disposed to acknowledge us as equals in the Union, and who have, on many occasions, gallantly struggled to secure our Constitutional rights.

I therefore respectfully recommend that you invite the Southern States to a conference, or such of them as may be inclined to enter into consultation with us upon the present condition of the country, should such a conference be found imp then I would recommend the of or more in with the view of

I also think that the public safety requires a is our own people for as of their opinion. The will of the people once expressed will be a law of action with all, and secure that unanimity so necessary in an emergency like the present.

I therefore recommend that a Convention of the people of the State be called, to assemble immediately after the proposed consultation with other Southern States shall have terminated.

The subject of our military defence will require your early attention. I would recommend a thorough reorganization of the militia and the enrollment of all persons between the ages of 18 and 45 years. With such a regulation our muster roll would contain near a hundred and ten thousand men.

I would also recommend the formation of a corps of ten thousand volunteers, with an organization separate from the main body of the militia, and that they be suitably armed and equipped.

That your proceedings may be conducted in a spirit of harmony and conciliation, and that they will rebound to the honor and welfare of North Carolina and our common country, is my fervent desire.

Monday, November 23, 2015

November 23, 1860: Robert Anderson reports on conditions in Charleston

Major Robert Anderson, U.S. Army

Days after he arrived on scene in Charleston, Major Robert Anderson, U.S. Army fired off his first report on the situation he found.
No. 1.] FORT MOULTRIE, S. C., November 23, 1860.
Adjutant-General, U. S. Army:

COLONEL: In compliance with verbal instructions from Secretary of War, I have the honor to report that I have inspected the forts of this harbor. As Major Porter has recently made a report in relation to them, I shall confine my remarks mainly to other matters, of great importance, if the Government intends holding them. At Fort Moultrie the Engineer, Captain Foster, is working very energetically on the outer defenses, which will, should nothing unforseen occur to prevent, be finished and the guns mounted in two weeks. There are several sand hillocks within four hundred yards of our eastern wall, which offer admirable cover to approaching parties, and would be formidable points for sharpshooters. Two of them command our work. These I shall be compelled to level, at least sufficiently to render our position less insecure than it now is. When the outworks are completed, this fort, with its appropriate war garrison, will be capable of making a very handsome defense. It is so small that we shall have little space for storing our provisions, wood, &c. The garrison now in it is so weak as to invite an attack, which is openly and publicly threatened. We are about sixty, and have a line of rampart of 1,500 feet in length to defend. If beleaguered, as every man of the command must be either engaged or held on the alert, they will be exhausted and worn down in a few days and nights of such service as they would then have to undergo.

Fort Sumter

At Fort Sumter the guns of the lower tier of casemates will be mounted, the Engineer estimates, in about seventeen days. That fort is now ready for the comfortable accommodation of one company, and, in- deed, for the temporary reception of its proper garrison.

Captain Foster states that the magazines (4) are done, and in excellent condition; that they now contain 40,000 pounds of cannon powder and a fall supply of ammunition for one tier of guns. This work is key to the entrance of this harbor; its guns command this work, and could soon drive out its occupants. It should be garrisoned at once. Castle Pinckney, a small casemated work, perfectly commanding the city of Charleston, is in excellent condition, with the exception of a few repairs, which will require the expenditure of about $500. They are—lst, replacing three water casks and the old banquette on the gorge; 2nd, repairing one of the cisterns and the old palisading, which, though much rotten, may at a trifling expense be made to answer for the present; 3d, making six shutters for the embrasures and doing some slight work to the main gates. Two mortars and a few other articles belonging to this work were taken to the United States Arsenal in Charleston some months since for repair. They are still there. I shall ask the officer in charge to return them as soon as he can. The magazine is not a very good one; it contains some rifle and musket powder, said to be good, and also some cannon powder reported damaged. The powder belongs to the arsenal. It is, in my opinion, essentially important that this castle should be immediately occupied by a garrison, say, of two officers and thirty men. The safety of our little garrison would be rendered more certain, and our fort would be more secure from an attack by such a holding of Castle Pinckney than it would be from quadrupling our force. The Charlestonians would not venture to attack this place when they knew that their city was at the mercy of the commander of Castle Pinckney. So important do I consider the holding of Castle Pinckney by the Government that I recommend, if the troops asked for cannot be sent at once, that I be authorized to place an Engineer detachment, consisting, say, of one officer, two masons, two carpenters, and twenty-six laborers, to make the repairs needed there. They might be sent without any opposition or suspicion, and would in a short time be sufficiently instructed in the use of the guns in the castle to enable their commander to hold the castle against any force that could be sent against it. If my force was not so very small I would not hesitate to send a detachment at once to garrison that work. Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney must be garrisoned immediately if the Government determines to keep command of this harbor.

I need not say how anxious I am—indeed, determined, so far as honor will permit—to avoid collision with the citizens of South Carolina. Nothing, however, will be better calculated to prevent bloodshed than our being found in such an attitude that it would be madness and folly to attack us. There is not so much of feverish excitement as there was last week, but that there is a settled determination to leave the Union, and to obtain possession of this work, is apparent to all. Castle Pinckney, being so near the city, and having no one in it but an ordnance sergeant, they regard as already in their possession. The clouds are threatening, and the storm may break upon us at any moment. I do, then, most earnestly entreat that a re-enforcement be immediately sent to this garrison, and that at least two companies be sent at the same time to Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney—half a company, under a judicious commander, sufficing, I think, for the latter work. I feel the full responsibility of making the above suggestions, because I firmly believe that as soon as the people of South Carolina learn that I have demanded re-enforcements, and that they have been ordered, they will occupy Castle Pinckney and attack this fort. It is therefore of vital importance that the troops embarked (say in war steamers) shall be designated for other duty. As we have no men who know anything about preparing ammunition, and our officers will be too much occupied to instruct them, I respectfully request that about half a dozen ordnance men, accustomed to the work of preparing fixed ammunition, be sent here, to be distributed at these forts.

Two of my best officers, Captain Seymour and Lieutenant Talbot, are delicate, and will, I fear, not be able to undergo much fatigue.

With these three works garrisoned as requested, and with a supply of ordnance stores, for which I shall send requisitions in a few days, I shall feel that, by the blessing of God, there may be a hope that no blood will be shed, and that South Carolina will not attempt to take these forts by force, but will resort to diplomacy to secure them. If we neglect, how-ever, to strengthen ourselves, she will, unless these works are surrendered on their first demand, most assuredly immediately attack us. I will thank the Department to give me special instructions, as my position here is rather a politico-military than a military one.

I presume, also, that the President ought to take some action in reference to my being a member of the Military Academy Commission, which is to reconvene in the city of Washington in a few days.

Unless otherwise specially directed, I shall make future communications through the ordinary channels.

I am, colonel, very respectfully, your obedient servant,

Major, First Artillery, Commanding.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

November 22, 1860: "Seventy-Five Dollars reward"

From the Richmond Daily Dispatch of November 22, 1860:
Seventy-Five Dollars reward.

--I will pay $75.00 for the apprehension of my Negro Girl, Peggy. who absconded about three weeks ago. She is a low thick set mulatto, with short curly hair, and is about sixteen years old. Her dress cannot be described, as she has been seen several times in this city since she left, and had on a different dress each time. E. L. Chinn.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

November 21, 1860: "Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch"

Richmond, Virginia c.1860-1865

On Wednesday November 21, 1860, the readers of Richmond's Daily Dispatch would have seen the following discussion of the relative merits of slavery in the South and freedom in Africa or in the North.
Correspondence of the Richmond Dispatch.

Death of a Good Man--State of Feeling in the Country — An Eloquent Sermon — Abolition Slander — Mass Meetings, &c., &c.
Chesterfield County,Nov. 20. 1860.

Yesterday the body of the Rev. Mr. Belcher was interred. He had for forty years been a minister of the Gospel, and preaching to Baptist Churches in this county. He was a good man, and much respected by all classes of the community. Rev. G. Mason, of Manchester, preached the funeral sermon.

There seems to be felt a deep solicitude in reference to the present state of the country. "What will Virginia do?" is the question which overrides all others. Though it seems to me that all have a conviction that no great harm is coming, and that after awhile the dark clouds will be swept away, and all will move on as heretofore, yet how such a desirable state of things is to be effected, is a matter about which the wisest confesses his ignorance.

Last Sunday I attended service at the African Church, at the Midlothian Pits, and was delighted with what I heard and saw. Rev. D. B. Winfree preached an eloquent sermon, and the singing and praying, which was done by the "colored brethren," was very fine.-- This is one of the best houses of worship in the county owned by slaves, and they employ a pastor who preaches for them three Sundays a month, while most of the white churches have preaching but one Sunday in the month. I could but think, while listening to the able exposition of Divine truth, and seeing how great are the religious privileges these people enjoy, how much better is their condition here than it would have been in Africa, or even in the Northern States, with no one to care for their souls or their bodies. When abolitionists assert that no provision is made for the religious culture of our slaves, they tell what is not true. Something is done — much is done, and a great deal more would be done if they would let us alone.

Mass meetings are being held in various portions of this county, in behalf of Sabbath Schools and colportage. I attended one of these, at Jerusalem, a few days ago. It was stated that the colporteurs in the employ of the Sunday School and Colportage Board in Richmond, have within three years organized sixty five Sunday Schools in destitute neighborhoods in this State, have found four thousand families destitute of the Bible, and about five thousand with no religious book but the Bible, and have put good books and tracts in two hundred and fifty thousand families. Rev. Masers, Winfree, Bland and Dickinson addressed the meeting in behalf of this good work, and $130 were subscribed.

I have just been looking at a farm which seems a very good one, which was sold not long since for $8 per acre. It is strange that lands so near Richmond, within a few miles of a railroad, and probably containing millions of dollars of coal, should sell so cheaply.[1]
It's interesting to see this writer blame the way slaves are treated on abolitionists themselves: "Something is done — much is done, and a great deal more would be done if they would let us alone."

Thursday, November 19, 2015

November 19, 1860: "Mr. Yancey on secession"

William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama

From the November 19, 1860 issue of the Daily Dispatch in Richmond, Virginia:
Mr. Yancey on secession.

Mr. Yancey spoke at Montgomery, Alabama, on Saturday last. He began by establishing the right of a "sovereign" State to withdraw from the Union when the terms of the contract were broken, arguing that all those States which had made laws obstructing the action of the Fugitive Slave law had already nullified the bond of union. He advised a convention of all the Gulf States, to the end that after a separate State withdrawal, a new Union might be formed, and a Southern Republic. He stated that the border States would not immediately secede, but would act as a bulwark to those further South, and that they had bound themselves to permit no Federal army to cross their territory. He stated, furthermore, that the present Administration, conceding the right of individual States to secede, would take no offensive measures, and that the next Congress, having a Democratic majority, would render such measures impossible on the part of Mr. Lincoln. He stated that he would rather die than become a slave to the North. He defied the bayonets of the coercive officer, and closed with an announcement of the South Carolina Convention for January 8, and the resignation of Toombs.--The enthusiasm of the meeting was unquestionable, and if the State were to be controlled by the feelings of its capital, secession would be inevitable.
William Lowndes Yancey was one of the primary architects of the secession movement, and yet here we find him arguing strongly against states' rights. Yancey cites Northern personal freedom laws--designed to protect Northern free Blacks from being kidnapped and sold South by slave catchers, a clear exercise of states' rights--as the reason why Southern states should secede. Secessionists invoked states' rights in a highly selective fashion.

As the events of the days and weeks ahead unfold, pay close attention to the reasons given for secession and the compromises offered by some politicians to keep the South in the Union.