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THE SOUTHERN DISUNIONISTS.*
The term. “Disunionists” belongs properly not to statesmen who are anxious to protect the rights of the South, but to those who, by continued aggressions on the Southern States, are coercing them to secede, in self-defence, from the Union. A Southern statesman is a unionist, in the best sense of the word, when he is contending against measures that must naturally lead to disunion. Our Union can be permanent only by leaving all local questions to the deci. sion of the locality. A violation of this principle by Great Britain is driving Ireland into rebellion, and driving Canada into annexation to our Confederacy. The Emperor of Russia might be sovereign over Poland, without any resistance on the part of the Poles, if he would permit them to control their own internal affairs. Hungary would not have revolted against Austria, if Austria had not interfered with the domestic legislation of Hungary. All ancient history, and all modern, are full of the fall of Empires from an attempt of one people to legislate for another. exemption from this error is the vital principle of our Con. federacy, and distinguishes it from all preceding Confederacies; and if we preserve this principle unimpaired, the extension of our Confederacy from the Atlantic to the Pacific will add to our national strength, instead of impairing it, and benefit the whole, be the extension North or South.
Such, then, being the conservative principle of non-interference, and such the destructive principle of interference, nothing can be more patriotic than for the South to resist all Congressional legislation on the subject of local slavery.
* Published December 17th, 1849.
The more a man loves the Union the more strenuous should be his resistance. Nor is any extent of resistance too great for so glorious an object; and from what we know of the innate
tyranny of human nature, we may be sure that the strong
oppress the weak, to the extent that the weak will submit to oppression. The South, therefore, should re ist to the extent that God has endued them with the power of resistance; and we may well hope, and well expect, that when such resistance shall be believed and seen, the true Disunionists will begin to count the value of the Union, and desist from an aggression which is properly and virtuously and patriotically producing consequences so dire. Nor should any compromises be endured. Compromises may patch up a temporary truce, as they have several times before ; but the great principle of non-interference with the peculiarities of localities, is too vital to be compromised.
Nor need we criticise the Constitution very profoundly, to determine how far Congress may constitutionally interfere with local slavery. To the extent that Congress possesses the power, the possession is an error; and as the interference is fatal to the peace and perpetuity of the Union, the error should be resisted as much as though the interference were unconstitutional. We are not to swallow poison by reason that we find it accidentally classed among wholesome food. Is it poison ? is the true question, and not how it is called, and by whom sanctioned. When the Constitution was made, the nature of such a Confederacy as ours was but dimly seen and understood. We may well wonder how the principle of non-interference with our domestic peculiarities came to be so well defined and so well guarded against ; and we shall have profited but little by our sixty years' experience of the nature of our Confederacy, if we now seek interpretations of the Consti
tution to authorize a Congressional interference with local slavery-a subject which different parts of our country are educated to estimate differently, which different climates and productions naturally influence, by rendering slave labor lucrative in some places, and unprofitable in others; and, moreover, a subject about which so much irritation has been artificially created, that no man reasons thereon without excitement of the most intense character. I look to the South with the hope that it will take care that the Constitution shall receive no dangerous wound by their remissness. So long as the South shall insist on only maintaining its rights, the consequences of the struggle will rest with the invaders, and not with the invaded.
THE CLAYTON-BULWER TREATY..
A CERTAIN mother, when her sons began to wrestle, always exclaimed, “Boys! stop there, for I know how that play will end.” So when Congress begins to demonstrate that England has encroached on us beyond the point of honorable endurance, I always feel inclined to exclaim, Stop there, for I know how that agitation will terminateand the following recital may make any one equally knowing. Some years ago, England insisted on searching our vessels to ascertain if they were slavers. Our Government remonstrated, and Congress agitated, till both demonstrated that we could submit to the indignity no longer with honor. Now, when a nation arrives at this unfortunate point, it must fight or compromise, if the aggressor will not
* Published February, 1856.
recede. England never recedes, but will always compromise after a given manner, which consisted in this instance of permitting us to search ourselves; a boon sometimes granted to a pugnacious man, who will turn his own pocket inside out as a substitute for being searched. For this selfdebasing purpose we stipulated to keep constantly an armed squadron on the coast of Africa, in an unhealthy position and at great expense, thereby surrendering back to England a portion of our independence ; for if we had desired such :: squadron, we could have sent it without the urgency of a treaty obligation.
Like the foregoing, was our agitation in relation to our North-eastern boundary. We remonstrated with England on the encroachments of New-Brunswick, till we again satisfied ourselves that we could submit no longer with honor ; and then again came the alternative of war or compromise. Great Britain was willing to once more assist us out of the dilemma, and we accordingly ceded to her a large slice from the State of Maine, and called it a compromise ; though it consisted of only substituting a definite encroachment for an indefinite one.
Oregon afforded example No. 3. We agitated the usual indefinite claim thereto of Great Britain, till we became satisfied that our North-western boundary extended to North latitude 54° 40', as fixed by our treaty with Russia, and that we could no longer submit with honor to the joint occupation exercised by Great Britain. The alternative, therefore, was only war or compromise on the usual English method, and we accordingly ceded to England a large portion of Oregon, as the less of two inevitable evils.
This brings us to example No. 4--our agitation in relation to the Monroe doctrine." We soon satisfied ourselves that our honor would be injured by permitting the
English to colonize any part of Central America. War or compromise was again our only alternative, and the Clayton-Bulwer treaty was a panacea of the usual character; for by it we consented to apply the Monroe doctrine to ourselves, for whom it was certainly never intended, if England would consent to adopt it against herself, for whom alone it was originally designed.
Our Congressional rulers are now preparing an example No. 5. They are fast bringing themselves into the dilemma, that they must either fight Great Britain for not adhering to the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, or be dishonored. Everybody knows we shall not fight, and that a new compromise to our increased injury will be the natural result of all the eloquence by which our Senators are demonstrat. ing to Bunkum their bravery and patriotism. Will nobody think of another alternative of even the Farewell Address of Washington, in which he warns us against forming entangling alliances with foreign countries. He left us masters of our own conduct, not compelled to keep a squadron on the coast of Africa at the pleasure of Great Britain, or compelled to reject a Minister from Central America, because the governing power there happens to be our own countrymen. Instead, then, of wrangling with Great Britain, because she refuses our interpretation of the Clayton-Bulwer alliance, let us be thankful to Providence for affording us the opportunity of cancelling the unwise treaty, and let us be rid of it forever and of all kindred entangling alliances. We had the wisdom to reject an extension to Cuba of the principle of the Clayton-Bulwer treaty, and now let us have the additional wisdom to reject the Clayton-Bulwer treaty itself.