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as exmateed to prom Congresffirmed bouthern 57
In the Southern States, therefore, this decision of the Supreme Court was naturally regarded as a victory. The Court, in fact, had done more than affirm the contention of the South. For if it was right-and from its decision there was no appeal—the Southern planter had no further need of compromise. He had won a far greater victory than he had ever contemplated. Law had definitely pronounced itself on bis side. It was, in these circumstances, only natural that extreme men on the Southern side should thenceforward adopt a new and stronger policy. Abandoning the doctrine of squatter or popular sovereignty, they demanded that property in slaves should be recognised and enforced throughout the States. If the territorial legisla'ture will not protect us,' said a Southern statesman-and the argument was fully affirmed by Jefferson Davis—the
obligation is upon Congress. If I cannot obtain the rights ' guaranteed to me and my people under the Constitution "as expounded by the Supreme Court, my mind will be
forced irresistibly to the conclusion that the Constitution • is a failure and the Union a despotism; and then, Sir, I 'am prepared to retire from the concern.
These extreme views, however naturally and logically they may have flowed from the decision of the Supreme Court, had the effect of weakening in the long run the cause of the South. The Northern Democrats, with Douglas at their head, were not prepared to follow the South in a claim which involved the indefinite extension of slavery. The South found, accordingly, as the time drew on for the next Presidential contest, that the strength of the Democratic party was divided. The secession of the Southern States, it is, perhaps, too often forgotten, was preceded, and perhaps precipitated, by a secession from the Democratic party.
If the Democrats were weakened by divisions, the Republicans were strengthened by the indignation which the Dred Scott decision provoked throughout the Northern States. That decision, so we have heard a prominent citizen of the United States declare, occupies in American bistory the position which the decision in the Hampden case fills in our own. Under it there was no longer a question of confining slavery to the existing slave States. The North was threatened with the introduction of slavery into its own domain. For the slave-owner who chose to bring his slave to a Northern State could claim the protection of the Courts for his property in his slave. In these circumstances the strongest men in the North were driven to the conclupressible conflict hele famous, were is, as Seward said in
sion that there was no longer any room for compromise between North and South. The States, as Seward said in a speech which became famous, were involved in an irrepressible conflict between opposing and enduring forces, and must become either entirely a slave-holding nation or
entirely a free-labour nation. And a greater man than Seward was slowly coming to the front and enforcing the same view. "A house divided against itself'-50 spoke Lincoln-cannot stand. I believe this Government cannot
endure permanently half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved. I do not expect • the house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be • divided.
The issue, therefore, at the Presidential election of 1860 was larger than that at the contest of 1856. In 1856 the North had virtually contended that slavery should be confined to those States in which it had been already established. In 1860 the South was claiming that property in slaves should be recognised throughout the Union, and the North was replying that slavery must everywhere cease. It so happened that other circumstances imparted heat to the contest, and made the issue of supreme economical and political importance.
For, in the first place, the Southern States were enjoying an exceptional measure of prosperity. The demand for slave-grown cotton was enormously increased ; the demand for slave labour bad proportionately risen, and the value of slaves in the market was higher than at any previous period. So great was the demand for slave labour that prominent Southern politicians were openly agitating for the repeal of the Act which made slave trade a piracy. But, while economical reasons of this character were inducing the South to take a stronger stand than it had ever taken before, other facts were indicating that power was passing from its hands. Up to 1850 the slave States and free States had been equal in number. In 1860 there were eighteen free States and only fifteen slave States; and, while it was obvious that more free States would ultimately be created, there seemed little chance of any more slave States being formed. In 1860, moreover, the population of the free States had reached 19,000,000; the population of the slave States was only 12,000,000, of whom one-third were slaves. There was no gainsaying the eloquence of these figures. They were emphasised by Lincoln's election. It was no longer doubtful that the supremacy had passed from the great Democratic party, which had held it so long, and that victory had been given to the man who had declared that either freedom or slavery must prevail.
It must be recollected, moreover, that at the time public feeling in the South had not unnaturally been irritated by John Brown's Raid. John Brown was a religious enthusiast who made it the purpose of his life to put down slavery. In 1856, during the troubles in Kansas, he had avenged some murderous outrages which had been perpetrated by the friends of the South in what is known in American history as the Massacre on the Pottawatomie. In October 1859 he seized the arsenal at Harper's Ferry, proposing from that vantage-ground to make incursions into the adjoining slave districts and to liberate and arm the slaves. Authority naturally regarded this proceeding as an act of treason. Brown was seized, tried, and executed, and it is difficult to see that authority could have done otherwise. Yet there was truth in Brown's heroic declaration, 'As I trust 'my life has not been thrown away, so I also humbly trust
that my death will not be in vain. God can make it to be a thousand times more valuable to His own cause than all the miserable service (at best) that I have rendered it during my life.' And his death and life show that the difference between North and South was really irreconcilable. For the man whom the South regarded as a traitor the North regarded as a martyr. Brown of Ossawattomie* is the subject of one of Whittier's pathetic poems. And the stirring refrain
John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,
But his soul goes marching onstirred the Northern armies as Dumouriez's soldiers were stirred by the sound of the 'Marseillaise' at Jemappes.
The North had spoken by the election of Lincoln. Four days afterwards the Legislature of South Carolina summoned a Convention of its people to consider the relations of the Commonwealth with the Northern States and with the Government of the United States. The Convention at once decided on secession. Yet it is possible that firm and decided action on the part of the North might have avoided, even at the eleventh hour, some of the consequences which ensued from this decision. It was, however, the misfortune
* Ossawatomie, or Osawatomie, was the name of Brown's residence, which was situated on the Pottawatomie Creek, the scene of the massacre,
speak no one couldnths after Linible, and Buchar
of the North that at this juncture, while South Carolina was speaking with a clear voice, Northern statesmen were drifting—no one could tell whither-without a policy. For more than four months after Lincoln's election Buchanan remained President and responsible, and Buchanan, sympathising with the South, shrank from extreme measures of coercion. Even when Lincoln assumed the reins of office
-in March 1861-time was necessarily required both for maturing and initiating a policy. In these precious months, in which the South, intent on secession, was preparing to meet every contingency, the Federal Government was making no preparations. It was even neglecting the ordinary precaution of protecting its own establishments and enforcing its own rights in the Southern States.
While the Executive of the United States was paralysed and inactive, Congress was making a vain effort to compromise the dispute. The proposals which were made with this object need not detain us in this article. For the spirit of compromise which had dictated the original Constitution of the United States, which had prevailed in 1820, and which still survived in 1850, had passed away. The hour for compromise was, in fact, gone; the hour for irrepressible conflict was beginning.
Upon the cause which was at the root of the approaching conflict there is no room for a difference of opinion. At the commencement of the twentieth century no reasonable man will venture to maintain that slavery was right, or that a struggle for its continuance was praiseworthy. There was truth and force in Lowell's appeal to England :
We know we've got a cause, John,
That's honest, just, an' true;
Ef nowheres else, from you.
Yet something was to be said on the Southern side which even those whose sympathies, like our own, are with Lincoln and the North should not wholly ignore.
For the South was in a great difficulty. Rightly or wrongly, Southern slave-owners owned some 4,000,000 slaves, and the value of an able-bodied slave was at least 1,500 dollars in 1860. If we take the average value of each slave at only one-fifth the value of an able-bodied slave, the slaves of the South were worth 1,200,000,000 dollars, or say 250,000,0001. of our money. Perhaps it was too much to expect that any race in the world would sacrifice 250,000,0001. without a struggle. And, in the eyes of a Southern planter, the 250,000,0001. represented only a portion of the sacrifice. For the South believed, perhaps rightly believed, that their land could only be cultivated by negro labour; and they doubted, perhaps rightly doubted, whether the negro would ever undertake regular work, day after day, except on the pressure which slavery applied. In addition, therefore, to the direct loss of 250,000,0001., there was a further indirect loss in the reduction in the value of land. The material interests at stake-and, till the millennium comes, material interests will affect the decisions of mankind-were simply gigantic.
It is true that the decision in the Dred Scott case had given the South all they desired, and that the Democratic party still retained a majority in the Legislature and a majority in the Supreme Court. There was, therefore, no apparent reason in 1860 why the Southern States should not remain in the Union, assured that neither Lincoln nor the Republican party could do anything against them. But, on the other hand, they could not help seeing that if, in the immediate future, they were safe, in the distant future their dearest interests were imperilled. The same forces which had carried Lincoln's election were almost certain to return a Republican majority to the House, and gradually to impose a Republican majority on the Senate. If secession, therefore, was not necessary in 1860, it might become necessary, from a Southern standpoint, in 1862 or 1864. If the struggle were in any case certain the day after to-morrow, there was nothing to be gained from not commencing it to-day.
In determining on secession the South was prepared for, but did not desire, war. There is no room for doubt that it would have preferred to remain at peace, and that it had no wish to appeal to the sword. Southern statesmen, indeed, claimed that each State, being sovereign, had the right to control its own destiny, and that Congress had no power to refuse it permission to leave a Union which it had voluntarily joined. But Northern statesmen as naturally replied that they could not permit the Republic to be broken up by the action of individual members. “Liberty and Union, now ' and for ever, one and inseparable,' were the words which, originally uttered by Webster, had remained engraved in the hearts of the people. Yet it must be admitted that the differences which thus existed could not be settled by an appeal to the Constitution. Whether,' writes Mr. Goldwin Smith, 'the Constitution was a compact, as parties to which