President James Buchanan knew precisely the origin of the troubles plaguing the country at mid-nineteenth century. The radical abolitionists and the purely sectional Republican party were threats to the peace of the country as they both fomented race war in the South. Not forthcoming from either were peaceful and practical proposals to end slavery.
Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org
The North’s Path to Bloodshed
“In his message of December 3, 1860, President Buchanan said to Congress, and virtually to the people of the North (p. 626 Vol. 5, Richardson):
“The long continued and intemperate interference of the Northern people with the question of slavery in the Southern States has at length produced its natural effects. I have long foreseen and often forewarned my countrymen of the new impending danger. The immediate peril arises not so much from these causes as from the fact the incessant and violent agitation of the slavery question throughout the North for the last quarter of a century has at length produced its malign influence on the slaves and inspired them with vague notions of freedom.
Hence a sense of security no longer exists around the family altar. This feeling of peace at home has given place to apprehension of servile insurrections. Many a matron throughout the South retires at night in dread of what may befall herself and children before the morning. Self-preservation is the first law of nature and has been implanted in the heart of man by his Creator for the wisest purpose. But let us take warning in time and remove the cause of danger.”
It cannot be denied that for five and twenty years the agitation of the North against slavery has been incessant. In 1835 pictorial hand-bills and inflammatory appeals were circulated extensively throughout the South of a character to excite the passions of slaves, and in the language of Genl. Jackson, to stimulate them to insurrection and produce all the horrors of a servile war. At the Presidential election in 1860 the Republican Party was greatly agitated over the Helper Book which instigated massacre.
Lincoln and Seward would not say that they were for massacre, but the Abolitionists had the vision of the X-ray and could see through such false pretenses. The doctrine of both “the irrepressible conflict” of Seward and “a house divided against itself cannot stand” of Lincoln, pointed directly to bloodshed.
The Abolitionists voted for Lincoln, and Wendell Phillips, who rejoiced at his election, said in a speech at Tremont Temple, Boston, a few days later: “There was a great noise at Chicago, much pulling of wires and creaking of wheels, then forth stept Abraham Lincoln. But John Brown was behind the curtain, and the cannon of March 4 will only echo the rifles at Harper’s Ferry.
The Republican Party have undertaken the problem the solution of which will force them to our position. Not Mr. Seward’s “Union and Liberty” which he stole from Webster’s “Liberty first” (a long pause) then “Union afterwards” (Phillips, Speeches and Lectures, pp. 294, 314).
(A Southern View of the Invasion of the Southern States and War of 1861-65, Captain S. A. Ashe, Raleigh, NC, 1935)