« ZurückWeiter »
REBELLION AND RECOGNITION CONSIDERED.
THE recognition of the Slave States in rebellion against the United States Government of North America is being pleaded with great urgency by many persons in this country, as due by us to those rebel states, on the grounds of their valour, their military prowess, and their commercial importance.
A consideration of the subject is, therefore, demanded, so that the grounds of such clain may be carefully investigated, and brought to the test of international precedents of previous recognitions, as well as of the principles laid down by the best authorities for the guidance of nations in such cases.
Vattel, in vol. 11, c. 4, s. 56, wrote as follows :
Whenever, therefore, matters are carried so far as to produce a civil war, foreign powers may assist that party which appears to them to have justice on its side. He who assists an odious tyrant-he-who declares for an unjust and rebellious people--violates his duty.
Before recognition can be entertained at all, the justness of the cause of the people seeking to be recoguised, even in its limited sense, must first be ascertained. This necessarily involves an inquiry as to what are the causes of the rebellion of the slave states. It is evident that the reasons assigned by the leaders and appointed chiefs of the insurgents will include all the causes. To those, then, we refer for the evidence required, and if on that evidence a just cause be not found, surely the claim fails.
In 1856, the contest between the anti-slavery or free-soil candidate and the pro-slavery democratic candidate for the presidency, was the real commencement of the present crisis. Fremont was the representative of the former principle, and Buchanan the exponent of the latter party. The Richmond Enquirer, the proslavery organ of the South, declared in 1856, that—“If Fremont is elected the Union will not last an hour after Pierce's (the then president) term expires." Preston Brooks, the representative in Congress of South Carolina, who has earned such a notoriety as
the hero of Southern manliness, chivalry, and gentle-blood, by violently assaulting the venerable, talented, and consistent advocate of freedom, Charles Sumner, in the senate-house at Washington, and who was fêted by the ladies of the South for that brave action, said, in 1856–
I tell you, fellow-citizens, from the bottom of my heart, that the only mode which I think available for meeting it (the issue of slavery and freedom), is just to tear the constitution of the United States, trample it under foot, and form a Southern Confederacy, every state of which shall be a slaveholding state.
It is obvious that so early as 1856 the slavery party saw the danger ahead; their foresight and knowledge of political parties impressed their minds with the growing influence of emancipation principles, and they, therefore, declared that their power under the constitution was ebbing, and must give way to a more civilised principle, which was the spirit of that constitutionliberty.
The election of 1856, however, gave them another lease of power, and Buchanan became president. The slave-holding party had been initiated into the party of the new freedom power by the number of votes polled for Fremont, and they determined to make a desperate struggle for power again in 1860. It is perfectly plain, however, that they had laid their plans for rebellion in case of defeat, and Jefferson Davis, in 1858, two years before the election, prepared his state for the event. In his speech at Jackson, Mississippi, in 1858, he said.
If an abolitionist be chosen president of the United States, you will have presented to you the question of whether you will permit the government to pass into the hands of your avowed and implacable enemies. Without pausing for an answer, I will state my own position to be that such a result would be a species of revolution by which the purposes of government would be destroyed, and the mere forms entitled to no respect. In that event, in such a manner as should be most expedient, I should deem it your duty to provide for your safety outside the Union.
Here, then, we have the honour, the principle, and the conduct of the slavery party explicitly stated. If the majority of the people should send an abolitionist for the presidency, we will not be bound by the majority-will reason; we cannot then dominate for our purposes—and because we cannot rule we will not obey. “Abolition,” be it remembered, is the only cause assigned, in 1858, for rebellion.
South Carolina may surely be trusted, in her deliberately-framed causes, as an exponent of the true grounds for secession. She complained that the fugitive slaves had not been recovered from the Free States—that the slave-hunters had not been assisted in their work of recapturing the hunted African—that the Free States had not caused their state officers to become slave-catchers in pursuance of the Fugitive Slave Law—that the right of pro
perty in man had been depreciated and had been denounced as sinful—that open establishment of societies for teaching abolition principles had been allowed for a quarter of a century—that now (by the election of Lincoln) this anti-slavery agitation had secured the aid of the president of the United States—and that the president elect had said—“That that government could not endure permanently half-slave and half-free," and "that the public must rest in the belief that slavery is in the course of ultimate extinction.'
Alabama very minutely details her causes, and they are similar in form, and entirely so in substance to those of South Carolina, and quite as carefully and politically prepared for public consideration.
These being the complaints on account of which rebellion was made, it may be inquired whether or not there is corroborative proof to be found. There is such additional evidence embodied in the compromise resolutions of John Crittenden, the Kentucky senator, during the session 1860 and 1861, a summary of which we now present :
1. It was proposed, that by amendment of the constitution, slavery should be allowed and recognised in all the territory south of latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes.
2. That Congress should have no power to abolish slavery in the states permitting it.
3. That Congress should have no power to abolish slavery in the district of Columbia, while it exists in Virginia and Maryland ; nor to prohibit the officers of the government and members of Congress from bringing slaves therein and holding them as such.
4. That Congress should have no power to hinder the transportation of slaves from one state to another, by land, or navigable rivers, or sea.
5. That Congress should have full power to pay to the owner of any fugitive slave the full value thereof, when the national officer is prevented arresting such fugitive.
6. That Congress should never have power to interfere with slavery in the states where it is now permitted.
7. That the right to have property in men should be legal, not only in the territory then in possession but also in all territory to be thereafter acquired.
To sum up the whole of Southern evidence, the ultimatum offered by Jefferson Davis to the Congress of the United States was as follows:
That it shall be declared by amendment of the constitution that property in slaves, recognised as such by the local law of any of the States of the Union, shall stand on the same footing in all constitutional and federal relations as any other species of property so recognised ; and, like other property, shall not be subject to be divested or impaired by the local law of any other state, either in escape thereto or by the transit or sojourn of the owner therein. And in no case whatever shall such property be subject to be divested or impaired by any legislative act of the United States, or any of the territories thereof.
I have now given proofs from the slaveholders themselves, of what they complained, viz., that abolition had been taught in the Free States, by mouth, pen, pulpit, and platform, and that due regard was not had to the property of the South when it assumed the shape and form of human beings: of what they feared, -that an abolitionist should be elected by the people to be president of the Union : of what they demanded, -that slavery should not only be local but constitutional and federal—or in other words nationalthat the slaveholder should have and hold men in bondage in any other state than the slave states; and that the territories should be the garden for slave labour and subject to the slavecurse ; and of what they determined upon, if these concessions were not made, that they would “ go out of the Union” and form a slave empire.
The whole theory of the rebellion is therefore so plain that none need to be ignorant by reason of indistinctness in its expression, or doubtfulness as to its character.
Can conscience reconcile itself to a judgment on such evidence, that the demands were just ? Can any lover of his kind, any intelligent possessor of personal, civil, and religious liberty, record his Yea to the justness of such claims ? I trow not.
Vattel may, however, have had in view other claims than those enumerated : such as “vested rights,” recognised by usage, allowed by sufferance, and consolidated by custom. Have any such obtained a place in the pleas of the specious and artful advocates of secession ? None of a primary or even secondary importance can there be found, even in the most minute of detailed slaveholding grievances. Indeed, it would be a matter of wonder if any could have been found, for the following reasons :
The election of Mr. Lincoln to the presidency in November, 1860, had not changed any part or altered one tittle of the constitation of the nation ; it had violated no one right held in common by the people of the nation; it had not nullified one privilege which was enjoyed before his election ; it had not altered the principle of the executive, the legislative, or the judicial powers of the nation. All were after, as they were before, the election. How then by possibility could the election have impaired any vested right held under the constitution ? Where could the wrong be after, that did not exist before, the election; and if before, why did not the wronged ones seek redress under their own rule and in their time of domination ?
No civil injustice had been done by Abraham Lincolo, therefore no justice needed to be sought. The only change that had taken place was, that a good man had been constitutionally elected, one who was not corrupted by slave-loving tendencies, and consequently that the prospective chance of getting new rights to slavery in a'l the territories, and transit in the Free States had become "impaired” and rendered almost hopeless. Having no moral or civil justness on the side of the rebels, is there any political or constitutional plea to which "justice” will adhere?
As an after thought, the plea of the right to secede was urged as the right of sovereign states.
The right of secession and sovereignty will, therefore, require consideration, having been broached as a venture, on which, perhaps, foreign.nations might speculate, and from which political and other aid might possibly come.
The plausible argument is, that the Union was a compact of states;
that each state reserved to itself certain unexpressed rights; which reserved power enabled each state when and how it chose to break the compact, and take unto itself sovereign powers and independence, without the consent of any other state or of the Federal government.
That there was a compact of colonies, then a continental confederation, or a compact of states or ambassadorial congress, up to 1786, will be admitted by all political and historical students.
The form of Congress was by state or colonial delegation ; but under that, the united colonies could scarcely be called a nation, for each assumed and probably had its independence, free from any control of the other states or colonies.
Those thirteen provinces united by articles of confederacy in the following form : “The said states hereby enter into a firni league of friendship with each other.” This league in 1781 was ratified, not by the people, but by the state governments. Under that confederation was the following article : “Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom, and independence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right which is not by this confederation expressly delegated to the United States in Congress assembled.” Here the sovereignty of states was explicitly mentioned and retained, but in this was subsequently found the vital defect—there was no power to act on individuals, nor could the confederation command the states. The Congress could not, in consequence, become a national power, having only delegated state authority for its basis. "A single state could rise up and veto the most important measures." “A minority could govern." Hence the urgent, all-important need for a new form of government.
Well, a convention was held in 1787, at Philadelphia, for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation and reporting thereon to Congress. The result was, that a constitution was framed and recommended to be adopted. That there may
no mistake about this result, be it remembered, that two propositions were placed distinctly and plainly before the convention—the one proposal being : a revision of the old Articles of Confederation and extension of powers ; and the other being a new constitution. The one was rejected, and the last carried by vote. The one a compact of states, the other a national plan of government based upon the majority-will of the people. This national constitution was submitted to the people in their conventions and"ratified” and solemnly