Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

SOUTH NOT THE AGGRESSOR.

The evening before Dr. McGuire was stricken with the malady which forever incapacitated him for any earthly service, I was with him, and as was frequently the case, we were talking about the war. In the course of the conversation, he alluded to the Report of last year, and feelingly expressed his just pride in the way you received it. He then said: "I am already making preparations for my next Report. I intend in that to vindicate the South from the oft-repeated charge that we were the aggressors in bringing on the war"; and he then added: "This will be my last labor of love' for the dear Southern people." Within less than twenty hours from the time that sentence was spoken, the splendid intellect that conceived it was a mournful wreck, and the tongue which gave it utterance was paralyzed.

My task, therefore, is to show that your Chairman was right in saying that the South was not the aggressor in bringing on the war; that, on the contrary, we did all that honorable men could do in the vain attempt to avert it—all that could be done without debasing the men and women of the South with conscious disgrace. and leaving to our children a heritage of shame; and I shall further prove that the Northern people, with Abraham Lincoln at their head, brought on the war by provocation to war and by act of war; and that they were and are, therefore, directly responsible for all the multiplied woes which resulted therefrom. In doing this, I shall quote almost exclusively from Northern sources; and, whilst I cannot hope to bring to your attention at this late day anything new, I do hope, by reiterating and repeating some of the old facts, I shall be able to revive impressions which may have faded from the minds of some: I shall hope, too, to reach the many, many others, especially the young, who have been the victims of false teaching with respect to these facts, or have had no opportunity, or, perhaps, little disposition, to become familiar with them.

REASONS FOR SUCH PAPERS.

It is well to set forth the reasons that actuate us in preparing such papers as these. These reasons were presented with great

force in the Report of 1899. Now, as then, they are found in the fact that the denials or perversions of the truth are sown broadcast all over the literature of the North. Not only does this characterize their permanent histories, as then shown with such clearness of criticism and cogency of reply, but their story-writings, their periodicals and transient newspaper publications-all, are vehicles, to a degree at least, of misrepresentation on these points. Their worthiest orators and writers have dared to tell the truth on important points, but the literature we have described is that which reaches the haphazard reader and permeates the South as well as the North. The Grand Army of the Republic contains many brave men. We have met them with arms in their hands. It contains others whose weapons of warfare are opprobrious epithets and denunciatory resolutions. This is a matter of annual display. Annually the Northern public is again misled, and its day of repentance is postponed. The men of the South are, therefore, constrained to make record of the truth. I proceed then to restate my purpose, which is to show that the South did not, and that the North did inaugurate the war. Before proceeding to the direct discussion of this question, and because the right of a State to secede from the Union was the real issue involved in the conflict, and the proximate cause thereof, I think it pertinent to inquire particularly, in what special locality, if in any, this doctrine originated? By whom, if by either party rather than the other, it was most emphatically taught? and especially which, if in either section, the threat of the application for the dissolution of the Union was first, most frequently and most ominously heard? In pursuing this inquiry, and adhering to our plan of calling the North to witness, let us ask first, What was the opinion of Northern and other unprejudiced writers on this question both prior to and since the war? Of course, we know that the right of a State to secede was commonly held by the statesmen of the South, and we venture the assertion that no unprejudiced mind can to-day read the history of the adoption of the Constitution and the formation of this government under it without being convinced that the right of secession as exercised by the South did exist.

THE RIGHT OF SECESSION.

A distinguished English writer says:

"I believe the right of secession is so clear, that if the South had wished to do so, for no better reasons than that it could not bear to be beaten in an election, like a sulky school-boy out of temper at not winning a game, and had submitted the question of its right to withdraw from the Union to the decision of any court of law in Europe, she would have carried her point."

Indeed, the decision of this question might, with propriety, and doubtless would, have rested for all time on the principles enunciated in the Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798 and '99, and the report of Mr. Madison on these resolutions. The Virginia resolutions and report were drawn by Mr. Madison, the "father of the Constitution "; and those of Kentucky by Mr. Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence.

These principles, emanating from these "master-builders," would as we have said, have settled the rights of the States on this question forever, but for the fact, as Mr. Henry Cabot Lodge, of Massachusetts, tells us, that the North was controlled by expediency, and not by principle, in the consideration of them. These resolutions, when adopted by Virginia and Kentucky, were sent to the Northern Legislatures for their concurrence; and the distinguished Senator from Massachusetts, from whom we are quoting says in terms, in his Life of Webster, that when the resolutions were thus submitted, "they were not opposed on constitutional grounds, but only on those of expediency and hostility to the revolution they were considered to embody." That they did not, and could not, cite any constitutional principle as ground for their rejection, only they held that the revolution involved in their application was at that time inexpedient. In other words, it did not pay the New England States to endorse the principles of those resolutions then; but when they thought they were being oppressed by the Federal Government a few years later (as we shall presently see), they were not only ready to endorse these resolutions, but actually threatened to secede from the Union.

TWO PERTINENT QUESTIONS.

But I wish to advance a step further in the argument, and inquire :

(1) Where the doctrine of secession originated? and

(2) What distinguished Northern statesmen have said of the right, both before and since the war?

Here we may properly add the clear statement of an able Northern writer, who declares his opinion (presently to be quoted in full) that at the time the Constitution was accepted by the States, there was not a man in the country who doubted the right of each and every State peaceably to withdraw from the Union. In fact, we may at once answer our first inquiry by saying that the doctrine of secession originated in neither section, but was recognized at the first as underlying the Constitution and accepted by all parties. In confirmation of this view, but particularly with respect to the region of its earliest, most frequent, most emphatic and most threatening assertion, we proceed to show further, that a recent Northern writer has used this language:

"A popular notion is that the State-rights-secession or disunion doctrine was originated by Calhoun, and was a South Carolina heresy. But that popular notion is wrong. According to the best information I have been able to acquire on the subject, the Staterights, or secession doctrine, was originated by Josiah Quincy, and was a Massachusetts heresy."

This writer says Quincy first enunciated the doctrine in opposing the bill for the admission of what was then called the " Orleans Territory" (now Louisiana) in 1811, when he declared that "if the bill passed and that territory was submitted, the act would be subversive of the Union, and the several States would be freed from their federal bonds and obligations; and that, as it will be the right of all (the States), so it will be the duty of some to prepare definitely for a separation, amicably if they can, violently if they must."

Whilst this author may be right in characterizing the development of the doctrine, and fixing this right as a "Massachusetts

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

heresy," he is wrong in fixing upon its first progenitor, and in saying that the date of its birth was as late as 1811; for in 1803, one Colonel Timothy Pickering, a senator from Massachusetts, and Secretary of State in the Cabinet of John Adams, complaining of what he called "the oppression of the aristocratic Democrats of the South," said, "I will not despair; I will rather anticipate a new confederacy." "That this can be accomplished without spilling one drop of blood I have little doubt." "It must begin with Massachusetts. The proposition would be welcomed by Connecticut; and could we doubt of New Hampshire? But New York must be associated; and how is her concurrence to be obtained? She must be made the center of the confederacy. Vermont and New Jersey would follow, of course; and Rhode Island of necessity."

THE HARTFORD CONVENTION.

In 1814, the Hartford Convention was called and met in consequence of the opposition of New England to the war then pending with Great Britain. Delegates were sent to this Convention by the Legislatures of Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut, and several counties and towns from other Northern States also sent representatives. This Convention, after deliberating with closed doors on the propriety of withdrawing the States represented in it from the Union, published an address, in which it said, among other things:

[ocr errors]

"If the Union be destined to dissolution .. it should, if possible, be the work of peaceable times and deliberate consent. Whenever it shall appear that the causes are radical and permanent, a separation by equitable arrangement will be preferable to an alliance by constraint among nominal friends, but real enemies."

In 1839, Ex-President John Quincy Adams, in an address delivered by him in New York, said:

"The indissoluble link of union between the people of the several States of this confederated nation is, after all, not in the right, but in the heart. If the day should ever come (may Heaven avert

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »