1902 Encyclopedia > United States > Tendencies to Disunion: 1850-61

United States
(Part 9)




SECTION I: HISTORY AND CONSTITUTION (cont.)

Part 9. Tendencies to Disunion: 1850-61


234. The abolitionists had never ceased to din the iniquity of slavery into the ears of the American people. Calhoun, Webster, and Clay, with nearly all the other political leaders of 1850, had united in deploring the wickedness of these fanatics, who were persistently stirring up a question which was steadily widening the distance between the sections. They mistook the symptom for the disease. Slavery itself had put the South out of harmony with the inevitable lines of the country’s development. Even in 1850, though they hardly yet knew it, the two sections had drifted so far apart that they were practically two different countries.

235. The case of the South was one of arrested development. The South remained very much as in 1790; while other parts of the country had developed, it had stood still. The remnants of colonial feeling, of class influence, which advancing democracy had wiped out elsewhere, retained all their force here, aggravated by the effects of an essentially aristocratic system of employment. The ruling class had to maintain a military control over the laboring class, and a class influence over the poorer whites. It had even secured in the constitution provision for its political power in the representation given to three-fifths of the slaves. The twenty additional members of the house of representatives were not simply a gain to the South; they were still more a gain to the "black districts," where whites were few, and the slave-holder controlled the district. Slave-owners and slave-holders together, there were but 350,000 of them; but they had common interests, the intelligence to see them, and the courage to contend of them. The first step of a rising man was to buy slaves; and this was enough to enroll him in the dominant class. From it were drawn the representatives and senators in Congress, the governors, and all the holders of offices over which the "slave power," as it came to be called, had control. Not only was the South inert; its ruling class, its ablest and best men, were united in defence of tendencies which were alien and hostile to those of the rest of the country.

236. Immigration into the United States was not an important factor in its development until about 1847. The immigrants, so late as 1820, numbered but 8000 per annum; their number did not touch 100,000 until 1842, and then it fell for a year or two almost to half that number. In 1847 it rose again to 235,000, in 1849 to 300,000, and in 1850 to 428,000; all told, more than two and a quarter million persons from abroad settled in the United States between 1847 and 1854. Taking the lowest estimates - $80 each for the actual amount of money brought in by immigrants, and $800 each for their industrial value to the country, - the wealth-increasing influence of such a stream of immigration may be calculated. Its political effects were even greater, and were all in the same direction. Leaving out the dregs of the immigration, which settled down in the seaboard cities, its best part was a powerful nationalizing force. It had not come to any particular State, but to the United States; it had none of the traditional prejudices in favor of a State, but a strong feeling for the whole country; and the new feelings which it brought in must have had their weight not only on the gross mass of the people, but on the views of former leaders. And all the influences of this enormous immigration were confined to the North and West, whose divergence from the South thus received a new impetus. The immigration avoided slave soil as if by instinct. So late as 1880 the census reports that the Southern States, except Florida, Louisiana, and Texas, are "practically without any foreign element"; but it was only in 1850-60 that this differentiating circumstance began to show itself plainly. And, as the sections began to differ further in aims and policy, the North began to gain heavily in ability to ensure its success.

237. Texas was the last slave State ever admitted; and, as it refused to be divided, the South had no further increase of numbers in the senate. Until 1850 the admission of a free State had been so promptly balance by the admission of a slave State that the senators of the two sections had remained about equal in number; in 1860 the free States had 36 senators and the slave States only 30. As the representation in the house had changed from 35 free State and 30 slave State members in 1790 to 147 free State and 90 slave State in 1860, and as the electors are the sum of the numbers of senators and representatives, it is evident that political power had passed away from the South in 1850. If at any time the free States should unite they could control the house of representatives and the senate, elect the president and vice-president, dictate the appointment of judges and other Federal officers, and make the laws what they pleased. If pressed to it, they could even control the interpretation of the laws by the Supreme Court. No Federal judge could be removed except by impeachment (§ 212), but an Act of Congress could at any time increase the number of judges to any extent, and the appointment of the additional judges could reverse the opinion of the court. All the interests of the South depended on the one question whether the free States would unite or not.

238. In circumstances so critical a cautious quiescence and avoidance of public attention was the only safe course for the "slave power," but that course had become impossible. The number interested had become too large to be subject to complete discipline; all could not be held in cautious reserve; and, when an advanced proposal came from any quarter of the slave-holding lines, the whole army was shortly forced up to the advanced position. every movement of the mass was necessarily aggressive; and aggression meant final collision. If collision came, it must be on some question of the rights of the States; and on such a question the whole South would move as one man. Everything thus tended to disunion.

239. The Protestant churches of the United States had reflected in their organization the spirit of the political institutions under which they lived. Acting as purely voluntary associations, they had been organized into governments by delegates, much like the "conventions" which had even evolved in the political parties (§ 203). The omnipresent slavery question intruded into these bodies, and split them. The Baptist Church was thus divided into a Northern and a South branch in 1845, and the equally powerful Methodist Church met the same fate the following year. Two of the four great Protestant bodies were thus no longer national; it was only by the most careful management that the integrity of the Presbyterian Church was maintained until 1861, when it also yielded; and only the Episcopal and Roman Catholic Churches retained their national character. If the process of disruption did not extend to other sects, it was because they were already mainly Northern or mainly Southern.

240. The political parties showed the same tendency. Each began to shrivel up in one section or the other. The notion of "squatter sovereignty," attractive at first to the Western democracy, and not repudiated by the South, enabled the Democratic party to pass the crisis of 1850 without losing much of its Northern vote, while Southern Whigs began to drift in, making the party continually more pro-slavery. This could not continue long without beginning to decrease its Northern vote, but this effect did not become plainly visible until after 1852. The efforts of the Whig party to ignore the great question alienated its anti-slavery members in the North, while they did not satisfy its Southern members. The Whig losses were not at first heavy, but, as the electoral vote of each State is determined by the barest plurality of the popular vote, they were enough to defeat the party almost everywhere in the presidential election of 1852. The Whigs nominated Scott and the Democrats Pierce; and Pierce carried all but four of the thirty-one States, and was elected. This revelation of hopeless weakness was the downfall of the Whig party; it maintained its organization for four years longer, but the life had gone out of it. The future was with the Free Soil party, though it had polled but few votes in 1852.

241. During the administration of Taylor (and Vice-President Fillmore, who succeeded him) Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Polk, and Taylor were removed by death, and there was a steady drift of other political leaders out of public life. New men were pushing in everywhere, and in both sections they showed the prevailing tendency to disunion. The best of them were unprecedentedly radical. Summer, Seward, and Chase came into the senate, bringing the first accession of recognized force and ability to the anti-slavery feeling in that body. The new Southern men, such as Davis, and the Democratic recruits from the Southern Whig party, such as Stephens, were ready to take the ground on which Calhoun had always insisted – that Congress was bound not merely to the negative duty of not attacking slavery in the Territories, but to the positive duty of protecting it. This, if it should become the general Southern position, was certain to destroy the notion of squatter sovereignty (§ 226), and thus to split the Democratic party, which was almost the last national ligament that now held the two fragments of the Union together.

242. The social disintegration was as rapid. Northern men traveling in the South were naturally looked upon with increasing suspicion, and were made to feel that they were on a soil alien in sympathies. Some of the worst phases of democracy were called into play in the South; and, in some sections, law openly yielded supremacy to popular passion in the cases of suspected abolitionists. Southern conventions, on all sorts of subjects, became common; and in these meetings, permeated by a dawning sense of southern nationality, hardly any proposition looking to Southern independent of the North was met with disfavor. In State elections a distinctly disunion element appeared; and, though it was defeated, the majority did not deny the right of secession, only its expediency.

243. Calhoun, in his last and greatest speech, called attention to the manner in which one tie after another was snapping. But he ignored the real peril o the situation –its dangerous facts; that the South was steadily growing weaker in comparison with the North, and more unable to secure a wider area for the slave system; that it was therefore being steadily forced into demanding active Congressional protection for slavery in the Territories; that the North would never submit to this; and that the South must submit to the will of the majority or bring about a collision by attempting to secede.

244. Anti-slavery feeling in the North was stimulated by the manner in which the Fugitive Slave Law (§ 228) was enforce immediately after 1850. the chase after fugitive slaves was prosecuted in many cases with circumstances of revolting brutality, and features of the slave system which had been tacitly looked upon as fictitious were brought home to the heart of the free States. The added feeling showed its force when the Kansas-Nebraska Act was passed by Congress (1854). It organized the two new Territories of Kansas and Nebraska. Both of them were for ever free soil by the terms of the Missouri compromise (§ 197). But the success of the notion of squatter sovereignty in holding the Democratic party together while destroying the Whig party had intoxicated Douglas and other Northern Democrats; and they now applied the doctrine to these Territories. They did not desire "to vote slavery up or down," but left the decision to the people of the two Territories.

245. This was the grossest political blunder in American history. The status of slavery had been settled, by the constitution or by the compromises of 1820 and 1850, on every square foot of American soil; right or wrong, the settlement was made. The Kansas-Nebraska Act took a great mass of territory out of the settlement and flung it into the arena as a prize for which the sections were to struggle; and the struggle always tended to force, as the only arbiter. The first result of the Act was to throw parties into chaos. An American or "Know-Nothing" party, a secret oath-bound organization, pledged to oppose the influence or power of foreign-born citizens, had been formed to take the place of the defunct Whig party. It had been quite successful in State elections for a time, and was no beginning to have larger aspiration. It, like the Whig party, intended to ignore slavery, but, after a few years of life, the questions complicated with slavery entered its organization and divided it also. Even in 1854 many of its leaders in the North were forced to take position against the Kansas-Nebraska Act, while hosts of others joined in the opposition without any party organization. No American party ever rose so swiftly as this latter; with no other party name than the awkward title of "Anti-Nebraska men," it carried the Congressional elections of 1854 at the North, forced many of the former Know-Nothing leaders into union with it, and controlled the house of representatives of the Congress which met in 1855. The Democratic party, which had been practically the only party since 1852, had now to face the latest and strongest of its broad-constructionist opponents, one which with the nationalizing features of the Federal and Whig parties combined democratic feelings and methods, and, above all, had a democratic purpose at bottom. It acknowledged, at first, no purpose aimed at slavery, only an intention to exclude slavery from the Territories; but, under such principles, it was the only party which was potentially an anti-slavery party, the only party to which the enslaved laborer of the South could look with the faintest hope of aid in reaching the status of a man. The new party had grasped the function which belonged of right to its great opponent, and it seized with it is opponent’s original title. The name Democrat had quite taken the place of that first used-Republican (§ 150), but the latter had never passed out of popular remembrance and liking at the North. The new party took quick and skilful advantage of this by assuming the old name, and early in 1856 the two great parties of the next thirty years - the Democratic and Republican parties – were drawn up against one another.

246. The foreign relations of the United States during Pierce’s term of office were overshadowed by the domestic difficulties but were of importance. In the Koszta case (1853) national protection had been afforded on foreign soil to a person who had only taken the preliminary steps to naturalization. Japan had been opened to American intercourse and commerce (1854). But the question of slavery was more and more thrusting itself even into foreign relations. A great Southern republic, to be founded at first by the slave States, but to take in gradually the whole territory around the Gulf of Mexico and include the West Indies, was soon to be a pretty general ambition among slave-holders, and its first phases appeared during Pierce’s administration. Efforts were begun to obtain Cuba from Spain; and the three leading American minister abroad, meeting at Ostend, united in declaring the possession of Cuba to be essential to the well-being of the United States (1854). "Fillibustering" expeditions against Cuba or the smaller South American states, intended so to revolutionize them as to lay a basis for an application to be annexed to the United States, became common, and taxed the energies of the Federal Government for their prevention. All these, however, yielded in interest and importance to the affairs in Kansas.





247. Nebraska was then supposed to be a desert, and attention was directed almost exclusively to Kansas. No sooner had it organization left the matter of slavery to be decided by its "people" than the anti-slavery people of the North and West felt it to be their duty to see that the "people" of the Territory should be anti-slavery in sympathy. Emigrant associations were formed, and these shipped men and families to Kansas, arming them for their protection in the new country. Southern newspapers called for similar measures in the South, but the call was less effective. Southern men without slaves, settling a new State, were uncomfortably apt to prohibit slavery, as in California. Only slave-holders were trusty proslavery men; and such were not likely to take slaves to Kansas, and risk their ownership on the result of the struggle. But for the people of Missouri, Kansas would have been free soil at once. Lying across the direct road to Kansas, the Missouri settlers blockaded the way of free-State settlers, crossed into Kansas, and voted profusely at the first Territorial election. Their votes chose a Territorial legislature which gave a complete code of slave laws to the Territory. Passing to the north of Missouri the "free-State settlers" entered Kansas to find that their opponents had secured the first position. This brought out the fundamental difference between a Territory – under the absolute control of Congress and only privileged in certain branches of legislation-and a State with complete jurisdiction over its own affairs. Finding themselves cut off from control of the former, the free-State settlers determined to attempt to substitute the latter. They organized a State government (1855), and applied admission by Congress. Such irregular erections of States had been known before; and though they were confessedly not binding until confirmed by Congress, the Democratic party had always been tender with them, and prone to seek a compromise with them. A symptom of the process which had been making the Democratic party pro-slavery was seen in the attitude which the Democratic administration now took towards the inchoate State of Kansas. Never thinking of compromise, it pounced on the new organization, scattered it, arrested its leaders, and expressed a hesitating desire to try them for treason (1856). Nevertheless, the free-State settlers gave no further obedience to the Territorial government, as the pro-slavery settlers refused to recognize the pseudo-State government, and the struggle passed into a real civil war, the two powers mustering considerable armies, fighting battles, capturing towns, and paroling prisoners. The struggle was really over in 1857, and the South was beaten. It could not compete with the resource and enthusiasm of the other section; its settlers were not unanimous, as their opponents were; and the anti-slavery settlers were in a great majority. There were, however, all sorts of obstacles yet to be overcome before the new State of Kansas was recognized by Congress, after the withdrawal of the senators of the seceding States (1861).

248. In the heat of the Kansas struggle came the presidential election of 1856. The Democrats nominated Buchanan, declaring, as usual for the strictest limitation of the powers of the Federal Government on a number of points specified, and reaffirming the principle of the Kansas-Nebraska Act- the settlement of slavery by the people of the Territory. The remnant of the Whig party, including the Know-Nothings of the North and those Southern men who wished to further discussion of slavery, nominated the president who had gone out of office in 1853, Fillmore. The Republican party nominated Fremonth; the bulk of its manifesto was taken up with protests against attempts to introduce slavery into the Territories; but it showed its broad-construction tendencies by declaring for appropriations of public moneys for internal improvements. The Democrats were successful in electing Buchanan; but the position of the party was quite different from the triumph with which it had come out of the election of 1852. It was no longer master of twenty-seven of the thirty-one States; all New England and New York, all the North-West but Indiana and Illinois, all the free States but five, had gone against it; its candidate no longer had a majority of the popular vote; but was chosen by a majority of the electoral votes; and it had before it a party with nearly as many popular votes as its own, the control of most of the strongest section of the Union, and an enthusiasm which was more dangerous still. For the first time in the history of the country a distinctly anti-slavery candidate had obtained an electoral vote, and had even come near obtaining the presidency. Fillmore had carried but one State, Maryland; Buchanan had carried the rest of the South, with a few States in the North, and Fremont the rest of the North and none of the South. If things had gone so far that the two sections were to be constituted into opposing political parties, it was evident that the end was near.

249. Oddly enough, the constitutionality of the compromise of 1820 (§ 197) had never happened to come before the Supreme Court for consideration. In 1856-57 it came up for the first time. One Dred Scott, a Missouri slave who had been taken to he Territory covered by the compromise, and had therefore sued for his freedom, was sold to a citizen of another State. Scott then transferred his suit from the State to the Federal courts, under the power given to them to try suits between citizens of different States, and the case came by appeal to the Supreme Court. Its decision was announced at the beginning of Buchanan’s administration. It put Scott out of court on the ground that a slave, or the descendant of slaves, could not be a citizen of the United States or have any standing in Federal courts. The opinion of the chief-justice went on to attack the validity of the Missouri compromise, for the reasons that one of the constitutional functions of Congress was the protection of property; that slaves had been recognized as property by the constitution; and that Congress was bound to protect, not to prohibit, slavery in the Territories. The mass of the Northern people held that slaves were looked on by the constitution, not as property, but as "persons held to service or labor" by State laws; that the constitutional function of Congress was the protection of liberty as well as property; an d that Congress was thus bound to prohibit, not to protect, slavery in the Territories. Another step in the road to disunion was thus taken, as the only peaceful interpreter of the constitution was pushed out of the way. The North flouted the decision of the Supreme Court, and the storm of angry dissent which it aroused did the disunionists good service at the South. From this time the leading news papers in the South maintained that the radical Southern view first advanced by Calhoun, and but slowly accepted by other Southern leaders, as to the duty of Congress to protect slavery in the Territories, had been confirmed by the Supreme Court; that the Northern Republicans had rejected it; and that even the squatters sovereignty theory of Northern Democrats could no longer be submitted to by the South.

250. The population of the United States in 1860 was over 31,000,000, an increase of more than 8,000,000 in ten years. As the decennial increased of population became larger, so did the divergence of the sections in population, and still more in wealth and resources. Two more free States came in during this period- Minnesota (1858) and Oregon (1859), - and Kansas was clamoring loudly for the same privilege. The free and slave States, which had been almost equal in population in 1790, stood now as 19 to 12. And of the 12,000,000 in slave States, the 4,000,000 slaves and the 250,000 free blacks were not so much a factor of strength as a possible source of weakness and danger. No serious slave rising had ever taken place in the South; but the sudden flaming out of John Brown’s insurrection (1859), and the alarm which it carried through the South, were tokens of a danger which added a new horror to the chances of civil war. It was not wonderful that men, in the hope of finding some compromise by which to avoid such a catastrophe, should be willing to give up everything but principle and even to trench sharply upon principle itself, nor that offers of compromise should urge Southern leaders farther into the fatal."

251. Northern Democrats, under the lead of Douglas, had been forced already almost to the point of revolt by the determination of Southern senators to prevent the admission of Kansas as a free State, if not to secure her admission as a slave State. When the Democratic convention of 1860 met at Charleston, the last strand of the last national political organization parted; the Democratic party itself was split at last by the slavery question. The Southern delegates demanded a declaration in favor of the duty of Congress to protect slavery in the Territories. It was all that the Douglas Democrats could then do to maintain themselves in a few Northern States; such a declaration meant political suicide everywhere, and they voted it down. The convention divided into two bodies. The Southern body adjourned to Richmond, and the Northern and border State convention to Baltimore. Here the Northern delegates, by seating some delegates friendly to Douglas, provoked a further secession of border State delegates, who, in company with the Richmond body, nominated Breckinridge (p. 788) and Lane for president and vice-president. The remainder of the original convention nominated Douglas and H.V. Johnson.

252. The remnant of the old Whig and Know-Nothing parties, now calling itself the Constitutional Union party, met at Baltimore nominated Bell )p. 788) and Everett. The Republican convention met at Chicago. Its "platform" of 1856 had been somewhat broad constructionist in its nature and leanings, but a strong Democratic element in the party had prevented it from going too far in this direction. The election of 1856 had shown that, with the votes of Pennsylvania and Illinois, the party would then have been successful, and the Democratic element was now ready to take almost anything which would secure the votes of these States. This state of affairs will go to explain the nomination of Lincoln, of Illinois, for president, with Hamlin, a former Democrat, for vice-president, and the declaration of the platform in favor of a protective tariff. The mass of the platform was still devoted to the necessity of excluding slavery from the Territories. To sum up: the Bell party wished to have no discussion of slavery; the Douglas Democrats rested on squatter sovereignty and the compromise of 1850, but would accept the decision of the Supreme Court; the Republicans demanded that Congress should legislate for the prohibition of slavery in the Territories; and the Southern Democrats demanded that Congress should legislate for the protection of slavery in the Territories.

253. No candidate received a majority of the popular vote, Lincoln standing first and Douglas second. But Lincoln and Hamlin had a clear majority of the electoral vote, and so were elected, Breckinridge and Lane coming next. It is worthy of mention that, up to the last hours of lIncoln’s first term of office, Congress would always have contained a majority opposed to him but for the absence of the members from the seceding States. The interests of the South and even of slavery were thus safe enough under an anti-slavery president. But the drift of events was too plain. Nullification had come and gone, and the nation feared it no longer. Even secession by a single State was now almost out of the question; the letters of Southern governors in 1860, in consultation on the state of affairs, agree that no State would secede without assurances of support by others. If this crisis were allowed to slip by without action, even a sectional secession would soon be impossible. If secession were a right, it must be asserted now or never.

254. Some assurance of united action must have been obtained, for South Carolina, ventured into secession. The democratic revolution which, since 1829, had compelled the legislature to give the choice of presidential electros (§ 119) to the people of the States had not affected South Carolina; her electros were still chosen by the legislature. That body, on the election day of November. 1860, having chosen the State’s electors, remained in session until the telegraph had brought assurances that Lincoln had secured a sufficient number of electros to ensure his election; it then summoned a State convention and adjourned. The State convention, which is a legislative body chosen for a special purpose, met December 20, and unanimously passed an "ordinance of secession," repealing the Acts by which the State had ratified the constitution and its amendments (§ 108), and dissolving "the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and other States, under the name of the United States of America." The convention took all steps necessary to make the State ready for war, and adjourned. Similar ordinances were passed by conventions in Mississippi (January 9, 1861), Florida (January 10), Alabama (January 11), Georgia (January 18), Louisiana (January 23), and Texas (February 1).

255. The opposition in the South did not deny the right to secede, but the expediency of its exercise. Their effort was to elect delegates to the State conventions who would vote not to secede. They were beaten, says A. H. Stephens, by the cry that the States "could make better terms out of the Union than in it." That is, the States were to withdraw individually, suspend the functions of the Federal Government within their jurisdiction for the time, consider maturely any proposals for guarantees for their rights in the Union, and return as soon as satisfactory guarantees should be given. a second point to be noted is the difference between the notions of a State convention prevalent in the North and in the South. The Northern State convention was generally considered as a preliminary body, whose action was not complete or valid until ratified by a popular vote. The Southern State convention was looked upon as the incarnation of the sovereignty of the State, and its action was not supposed to need a popular ratification. When the conventions of the seceding States had adopted the ordinances of secession, they proceeded to other business. They appointed delegates, who met at Montgomery, the capital of Alabama, February 4, formed a provisional constitution for the "Confederate States," chose a provisional president and vice-president (Jefferson Davis and A. H.), and established an army, treasury, and other executive departments. The president and vice-president were inaugurated February 18. The permanent constitution, adopted in March, was copied from that of the United States, with variations meant to maintain State sovereignty, to give the cabinet seats in Congress, to prevent the grant of bounties or any protective features in the tariff or the maintenance of internal improvements at general expense, and to "recognize and protect" the institution of Negro slavery, as it now exists in the Confederate States."

256. Under what claim of constitutional right all this was done passes comprehension. That a State convention should have the final power of decision on the question which it was summoned to consider is quite as radical doctrine as has yet been heard of; that a State convention, summoned to consider the one question of secession, should go on, with no appeal to any further popular, authority or mandate, to send delegates to met those of other States and form a new national government, which could only exist by warring on the United States, is a novel feature in American constitutional law. It was revolution or nothing. Only in Texas, where the call of the State convention was so irregular that a popular vote could hardly be escaped, was any popular vote allowed. Elsewhere, the functions of the voter ceased when he voted for delegates to the State convention; he could only look on helplessly while that body went on to constitute him a citizen of a new nation of which he had not dreamed when he voted.

257. The border States were in two tiers – North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas next to the seceding States, and Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri next to the free States. None of these were willing to secede. There was, however, one force which might draw them into secession. A State which did not wish to secede, but believed in State sovereignty and the abstract right of secession, would be inclined to take up arms to resist any attempt by the Federal Government to coerce a seceding State. In this way, in the following spring the original seven seceding States were reinforced by four of the border States (§ 267), making their final number eleven.

258. In the North and West surprisingly little attention was given to the systematic course of procedure along the Gulf. The people of those sections were very busy; they had heard much of this talk before, and looked upon it as a kind of stage-thunder, the inevitable accompaniment of recent presidential elections; and they expected the difficulty to be settled in some way. Republican politicians, with the exception of a few, were inclined to refrain from public declarations of intention. Some of them such as Seward, showed a disposition to let the "erring sisters" depart in peace, expecting to make the loss good by accessions from Canada. A few, like Chandler, believed that there would be "blood-letting," but most of them were still doubtful as to the future. Democratic politicians were hide-bound by their repetition of the phrase "voluntary Union" (§ 180); they had not yet hit upon the theory which carried the War Democrats through the final struggle, that the sovereign State of New York could make war upon the sovereign State of South Carolina for the unfriendly act of secession, and that the war was waged by the non-seceding against the seceding States. President Buchanan publicly condemned the doctrine of secession, though he added a confession of his inability to see how secession was to be prevented if a State should be so willful as to attempt it. Congress did nothing, except to admit Kansas as a free State and adopt the protective Morril tariff (§ 276); even after its members from the seceding States had withdrawn, those who remained made no preparations for conflict, and, at their adjournment in march 1861, left the Federal Government naked and helpless before its enemies.

259. The only sign of life in the body politic, the half-awakened word of warning from the democracy of the North and West, was its choice of governors of States. A remarkable group of men, soon to be known as the "war governors," – Washburn of Maine, Fairbanks of Vermont, Goodwin of New Hampshire, Andrew (p. 787) of Massachusetts, Sprague of Rhode Island, Buckingham (p 788) of Connecticut, Morgan (p. 790) of New York Olden of New jersey, Curtin of Pennsylvania, Dennison of Ohio, Morton (p. 790) of Indiana, Yates of Illinois, Blair of Michigan, Randall of Wisconsin, Kirkwood of Iowa, and Ramsey of Minnesota, - held the executive powers of the Northern States in 1861-62. Some of these governors, such as Andrew and Buckingham, as they swathe struggle come nearer, went so far as to order the purchase of warlike material for their States on their private responsibility, and their action saved days of time. And at all times they were admirably prompt, methodical clear-sighted, and intensely devoted to their one duty.

260. The little army of the United States had almost put out of consideration wherever its detachments could be found in the South they were surrounded and forced to surrender and to be transferred to the North. After secession, and in some of the States even before it, the forts, arsenals, mints, custom-houses, ship-yards, and public property of the United States had been seized by authority of the State, and these were held until transferred to he new Confederate States organization. In the first two months of 1861 the authority of the United States was paralyzed in seven States, and in at least seven more its future authority seemed of very doubtful duration.

261. Only a few forts, of all the magnificent structures with which the nation had dotted the Southern coast, remained to it- the forts near Key West, Fortress Monroe at the mouth of Chesapeake Bay, Fort Pickens at Pensacola, and Fort Sumter in Charleston harbor. Both the last-named were beleaguered by hostile batteries, but the administration of President Buchanan, intent on maintaining the peace until the new administration should come in, instructed their commanding officers to refrain from any acts tending to open conflict. The Federal officers, therefore, were obliged to look idly on while every preparation was made for their destruction, and even while a vessel bearing suppliers for Fort Sumter was driven back by the batteries between it and the sea.

262. The divergence between the two sections of ht country had thus passed into disunion, and was soon to pass into open hostility. The legal recognition of the custom of slavery, acting upon and reacted upon by every step in their economic development and every difference in their natural characteristics, surroundings, and institutions, had carried North and South further and faster apart, until the elements of a distinct nationality had appeared in the latter. Slavery had had somewhat the same effect on the South that democracy had had on the colonies. In the latter case the aristocracy of the mother country had made a very feeble struggle to maintain the unity of its empire. It remained to be seen, in the American case, whether democracy would do better.





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