Browsing "Bringing on the War"

The Drift of the Republicans

Criticizing Lincoln’s brutal policies against Americans both North and South, Democratic United States Representative Samuel “Sunset” Cox of Ohio said in late 1862 that Republicans were “determined to make this a war against populations, against civilized usage . . . and defeated the cause of the nation, by making the old Union impossible.” August Belmont, national Democratic Committee Chairman warned at the same time the North “was and still is ready to fight for the union and the Constitution, but it is not ready to initiate a war of extermination.”

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

The Drift of the Republicans

“The trouble with the Republicans,” Horatio Seymour charged, is that “one wing . . . is conservative and patriotic, the other is violent and revolutionary.” Before very long after March 1861, Democrats saw abolitionists in the ascendancy, setting the war policies of the government and successfully perverting the war’s aims. They were “getting wild on everything.”

Whatever Lincoln had started out to do, some Democrats charged, by 1862 the war had become “an abolition war – a war for general emancipation.” “No one talks of conservatism any longer,” Samuel Barlow was told, “or speaks of the old Constitution or of anything but a renewed and desperate raid for subjection of the rebels.”

They saw in the Thirty-seventh Congress a prime example of what the Republicans were up to. [A Democratic editor said]: “the evil in our system was not slavery, but unwarranted, meddlesome attacks upon slavery.” At the same time that the Republican party had entered into a policy of abolition, Democrats believed that it had also begun to destroy the liberties of the Northern people. The situation in the Border States where, in the name of national security military occupation and restrictions on individual rights had become a persistent fact of life, particularly troubled them.

[Former President] Franklin Pierce discerned federal agents spying on him wherever he went, in furtherance of their “reign of terror.” The actions of individual Union generals in suppressing newspapers and Democratic speakers also “put a gag into the mouths of the people.” Every action of the government “has been a glaring usurpation of power, and a palpable and dangerous violation of that very Constitution which this Civil War is professedly waged to support.”

They could only look on in dismay at “the drift of the Republicans,” which was, the editor of the Albany [New York] Atlas and Argus summed up, to subvert the Constitution by “perpetuating a bloody war, not to sustain, but to overthrow it.”

(A Respectable Minority, The Democratic Party in the Civil War Era, 1860-1868, Joel H. Silbey, W.W. Norton & Company, 1977, pp. 49-52)

Sumner the Accidental Senator

After his richly deserved gutta-percha thrashing by Preston Brooks, Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner feigned serious injury for advantage over his political opponent. As a Radical Republican and abolitionist, he provided much of the impetus for bringing on the war that destroyed the Founders’ Republic.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Sumner the Accidental Senator

“If (Charles) Sumner had been given to self-criticism, the firing of Fort Sumter might have caused him to ponder what part he himself had played in bringing on the sectional conflict. In the minds of many Southerners, extremists like Sumner were responsible for the breakup of the Union. As a “Conscience Whig,” he had helped kill the national Whig party, which had once bound together conservatives of both North and South.

As a Free Soil senator, he had seized every opportunity to attack the South and embitter sectional feelings. As Republican martyr, he had been instrumental in keeping his party committed to an antislavery course and in scotching efforts at compromise. “By degrees,” as Carl Sandburg has remarked, “”Sumner had come to stand for something the South wanted exterminated from the Union; he was perhaps the most perfect impersonation of what the South wanted to secede from.”

He might also have reflected upon the role that chance had played in elevating him to his prominent position. He had stumbled into politics largely by accident. He rose to leadership in the Massachusetts Free Soil movement as much through the unavailability of his rivals as through his own talents and exertions. Candidate of a minority party, he was first chosen to the Senate through the devious workings of a political coalition.

At nearly every point during his first five years in office, had he been up for reelection, he would almost certainly have been defeated. Then Preston Brook’s attack gave him his second term in the Senate and thereby assured him seniority and prestige within the Republican party.

Never chosen by direct popular vote for any office, Sumner, by 1861, nevertheless had become one of the most powerful men in the United States.”

(Charles Sumner and the Coming of the Civil War, David H. Donald, Fawcett Columbine, 1960, pp. 387-388)

 

 

Francis Scott Key and the Endangered Republic

By 1824, Francis Scott Key, writer of the Star-Spangled Banner, sensed the divisions which were undermining the foundation of American government. He surely never imagined that his own grandson, Francis Key Howard, would be imprisoned by Lincoln’s Republicans at the same place in where he penned the historic anthem.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Francis Scott Key and the Endangered Republic

“Key hastily surveyed the political situation in the Nation. Since the election of John Quincy Adams in 1824, party spirit had been blazing with intensity. President Adams named Henry Clay for Secretary of State; and immediately there arose the cry of a corrupt bargain between Adams and Clay. Key’s Virginia friend, John Randolph of Roanoke, added fuel to the flame.

In the Senate this sepulchral figure denounced the friendship of the Puritan President and “Harry of the West” as a dangerous conspiracy. “I was defeated,” shrieked Senator Randolph, “horse, foot and dragoon—cut up and clean broke down by the coalition of Blifil and Black George—by the combination, unheard of till then, of the Puritan with the blackleg.”

All during the year 1826 the opposing political parties were strengthening their organizations. The followers of Adams and Clay united under the banner of the National Republicans. They stood for a protective tariff and internal improvements by the National Government.

It was at this time that many of the Federalists in Maryland joined the anti-Administration forces. Before long Roger Brooke Taney, who had been a Federalist for a quarter of a century, was to become an ardent follower of Andrew Jackson and one of the leading Democrats in Maryland.

The sensitive soul of Francis Scott Key was disturbed. He could hear the call to arms; he could hear the tramp of the armies of the North and the South; he could hear the reverberations of the guns that were to shake the foundations of the Nation. He spoke now as a prophet:

  “We have lived to witness the operation of the political institutions founded by our fathers. Maryland is a member of the American confederacy, united with the other independent States in one general government. It is . . . her concern that the General Government be wisely administered, and with just regard for her peculiar interests. Her duty to the Union requires this; her own preservation demands it. There is a great common interest among these States — a bond of Union, strong enough, we all hope to endure the occasional conflicts of subordinate local interests.

But there are and ever will be these interests, and they will necessarily produce collision and competition. It is essential to her [Maryland], and to every member of the Union, that the agitations excited by these collisions should be kept from endangering the foundations upon which the fabric of our free institutions has been reared . . . It is no reproach to the wisdom of those who framed our Constitution that they have left it exposed to danger from the separate interests and powers of the States. These local interests are powerful excitements to the States to prepare and enrich their public men with the highest possible endowments . . .

If Providence shall preserve us from these dangers, and will give perpetuity to our institutions, Maryland will continue to see an increasing necessity . . . for calling forth and cultivating all her resources. And if this hope fails us, if the Union is dissolved, in the distractions and dangers that will follow, she will . . . still more require the highest aid that the wisdom of her sons can afford, to guide her through that night of darkness.”

As an illustration of the rivalry between the States, Key alluded to the foremost issue — the question of internal improvements. [He] refrained from giving his own opinion on the political aspects of internal improvements He evaded the issue by saying that the most needed improvement was the improvement of the intellect.

“The people,” he explained, “were to form a General Government of limited and defined powers, intended to secure the common interest — the States to be independent republics, in all other respects having exclusive power in whatsoever concerned their separate interests.” Thereupon Key urged that the . . . States be protected from Federal usurpation . . . “As the tendency of power is ever encroaching, the General Government may become a vast consolidated dominion, with immense resources and unlimited patronage, dangerous to the power of the States and the rights of the people.”

(Francis Scott Key, His Life and Times, Edward S. Delaplaine, Biography Press, 1937, pp. 266-306

Charles Sumner Plays the Victim

Charles Sumner’s well-deserved injuries from Senator Preston Brook’s gutta-percha were slight according to his Capitol physician, though his condition were transformed into life-threatening when an opponent appeared and Sumner required a political edge.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Charles Sumner Plays the Victim

“The day after the [caning] attack, Senator [Henry] Wilson, of Massachusetts, denounced Brook’s action as “brutal, murderous and cowardly assault.” [Senator Andrew Pickens] Butler, who had that morning returned, retorted “You are a liar,” and Brooks soon challenged Wilson to a duel, but he declined, as did a Connecticut Congressman.

As Brooks challenged and Northern Senators and Representatives declined, the North grew restive and a young Massachusetts House member saw an opportunity. This was Anson Burlingame, an anti-slavery man ambitious to be elected to Sumner’s Senate seat, of which there had been some chance. He now made a vitriolic speech denouncing Brooks’ assault, concluding with the statement that, if challenged, he would fight.

Brooks challenged promptly, but Burlingame sought out Lewis D. Campbell, of Ohio, for help in devising an acceptance which would preserve his reputation but avert the duel. They finally picked the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, a ruse which worked. “I could not reach Canada,” Brooks later said, “without running the gauntlet of mobs and assassins, prisons and penitentiaries, bailiffs and constables . . . I might as well have been asked to fight on Boston Common.”

When Brooks asked that another place be selected for the meeting, the Northern papers spoke of his cowardice, and praised Burlingame to the skies. But they said nothing of Brooks’ renewed insistence and Burlingame’s stubborn declination to name a closer point. At length, Burlingame left Washington secretly for the Middle West, thus avoiding further danger. A few months later Brooks died.

When Sumner was carried home after the assault, Dr. Cornelius Boyle, one of the Capitol’s best-known physicians, who attended, found him suffering solely from flesh wounds. The next day Sumner told the Doctor that he had not lost a single day’s session that Congress and he wanted to go to the Senate.

But Burlingame’s comedy of dueling had a fine Massachusetts reaction; there was some talk of electing him to the Senate and Sumner’s friends grew worried. His brother arrived and began playing up the gravity of Sumner’s wounds. Articles began appearing in the Intelligencer that Sumner had had a relapse. Dr. Boyle, who was calling twice a day, never detected any sign of fever, nor a pulse beat higher than 82 and gave the Intelligencer a correction. Soon thereafter he was discharged from the case.

The anti-slavery surgeon then employed, understanding the situation, sent Sumner back to bed and published that his condition had become quite dangerous. The Senator came forth again to testify to the House Committee but soon left Washington . . . and carried his martyrdom across the seas to European spas.”

[Note: When Dr. Boyle was before the House Committee of Investigation, he was questioned by Representative Cobb as to the nature of Sumner’s injuries. “They are nothing but flesh wounds,” he answered and repeated. “How long need he be confined on account of these wounds?” Cobb continued. “His wounds do not necessarily confine him one moment,” Dr. Boyle answered. “He would have come to the Senate on Friday if I had recommended it . . . He could have come with safety, so far as his wounds are concerned . . . Mr. Sumner might have taken a carriage and driven as far as Baltimore [47 miles] on the next day without any injury.” See also New York Herald, May 25, 1856; Washington Union, May 28, June 19, 1856]

(The Eve of Conflict, Stephen A. Douglas and the Needless War, George Fort Milton, Houghton Mifflin, 1934, pp. 236-237)

Emerson the Northern Secessionist

Wanting to depart Boston should New England ever “surrender to the slave trade,” the idealistic abolitionist Ralph Waldo Emerson must have forgotten that Massachusetts was the linchpin in the transatlantic slave trade and that Lowell Mills was amassing a fortune processing slave-produced raw cotton. Emerson was ready for the secession of New England from the Union if Buchanan won election in 1856 instead of Fremont.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Emerson the Northern Secessionist              

“The events of the fifties confirmed Emerson’s fears of Southern political power. It was “the ascendancy of Southern manners” that drew public men into the support of the South. At the same time, his attitude toward the North grew more sentimental and less critical. He drew more sharply the line between the slave states and the free states. Expressions such as “party of darkness” versus “party of light,” “aristocracy” versus “plebian strength” began to appear in his journals and addresses. Like his fellow-abolitionists, he assumed that the goodness of the individual was simply lost in the badness of the slavery system.

Emerson maintained that no slaveholder could be free. He fell into the abolitionist assumption that nobility and sincerity were inevitable concomitants to the Negro’s ignorance and simplicity. Those who ran away were fleeing from plantation whips and hiding from hounds.

Those who cooperated with the South were stigmatized. Any judge who obeyed the Fugitive Slave Law by returning a runaway slave to the South made of his bench an extension of the planter’s whipping post. Emerson’s anger over [Preston] Brooks assault on [Charles] Sumner led him to exaggerate uncritically his account of both Northern and Southern values:

“Life has not parity of value in the free state and in the slave state. In one, it is adorned with education, with skillful labor, with arts, with long prospective interests, with sacred family ties, with honor and justice. In the other, life is a fever; man is an animal, given to pleasure, frivolous, irritable, spending his days in hunting and practicing with deadly weapons to defend himself against his slaves and against his companions brought up in the same idle and dangerous way. Such people live for the moment, they have properly no future, and readily risk on every passion a life which is of small value to themselves or others.”

Emerson’s letter to his brother William in June of 1856 revealed the extent of his pessimism. He stated that he was looking at the map to find a place to go with his children when Boston and Massachusetts should surrender to the slave trade. “If the Free States do not obtain the government next fall, which our experience does not entitle us to hope, nothing seems left, but to form a Northern Union, & break the old.”

(The South in Northern Eyes, 1831-1861, Howard R. Floan, McGraw-Hill, 1958, pp. 57-59)

 

Northern Opponents of Lincoln's Jacobins

Though abolitionists found much of their strength in New England, Democrats in that region sided with the South in its determination of be free of the North. After this editorial of the Bangor Democrat appeared, a pro-Lincoln mob burned the news offices and printing presses. The editorial was re-printed in the New York Evening Day-Book of 18 April 1861.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Northern Opponents of Lincoln’s Jacobins

“Throughout the broad land of the fair South, the rising sun is no longer welcomed with the cheerful song of the husbandman wending his way to the toil of his peaceful field, but is greeted with the drum-beat that summons to arms the gathering hosts of war. From Carolina to the Rio Grande all is hasty preparation for a fearful conflict of arms.

There, to-day, are no peaceful, happy and quiet homes, for the invader is on their soil, and the government which was created to protect and defend them, has ruthlessly turned its guns against their altars and firesides.

Gray-headed fathers, stout-hearted husbands, and fair-cheeked youths, are taking a tearful adieu of their wives, their children, their mothers and their sisters, and buckling on their armor, and hastening away to the battle-fields from which many, many may never return to gladden their homes again.

This, reader, is no fanciful picture; it is a stern reality. To-morrow, in thousands of homes, wives, mothers, daughters, and little children will gather in mournful silence around the family board no longer cheered by the presence of their natural guardians and protectors.

Why is all this?

It is because that old Tory party, which under a multitude of names and disguises, first resisted the independence of America, and after its Government had become an established fact, has been unceasing in its efforts to get possession of it, and after having gained possession of it, by hypocritically assuming the garb of freedom, it has undertaken to convert the Government into an instrument of tyranny, and to use all its powers to overturn the very bulwarks of liberty itself – the Sovereignty of the States.

Yes, Abraham Lincoln, a Tory from his birth, is putting forth all the powers of government to crush out the spirit of American liberty. Surrounded by gleaming bayonets at Washington, he sends forth fleets and armies to overawe and subdue the gallant little State which was the first to raise its voice and arm against British oppression.

DEMOCRATS OF MAINE! The loyal sons of the South have gathered around Charleston as your fathers of old gathered about Boston, in defense of the same sacred principles of liberty – principles which you have ever upheld and defended with your vote, your voice and your strong right arm. Your sympathies are with the defenders of the truth and the right. Those who have inaugurated this unholy and unjustifiable war are no friend of yours – no friends of Democratic Liberty. Will you aid them in their work of subjugation and tyranny?

When the Government at Washington calls for volunteers or recruits to carry on their work of subjugation and tyranny under the specious phrases of “enforcing the laws,” “retaking and protecting the public property,” and “collecting the revenue,” let every Democrat fold his arms and bid the minions of Tory despotism [to] do a Tory despot’s work.

Say to them fearlessly and boldly in the language of England’s great Lord, the Earl of Chatham, whose bold words in behalf of the struggling Colonies of America in the dark hours of the revolution, have enshrined his name in the heart of every friend of freedom, and immortalized his fame wherever the name of liberty is known – say in his thrilling language:

“If I were a Southerner, as I am a Northerner, while a foreign troop was landed in my country, I would never lay down my arms – never, never, NEVER!”

(Abraham Lincoln: A Press Portrait, Herbert Mitgang, editor, UGA Press, 1989, pp. 256-257)

Exalting a Piratical and Murderous Fanatic

John Brown has been described by author Otto Scott (The Secret Six) as a political assassin, one who murders in order to attract attention and who would “incite and terrify as many people as possible.”  Brown was a fanatic who used terror to force a new political pattern of his choosing, cared little of the carnage he was instigating,  and won praise from Northern journalists who declared him a hero of the people.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Exalting a Piratical and Murderous Fanatic

“When the State of Virginia seceded from the Union on the 17th day of April, 1861, most of her citizens, belonging to the United States Navy, resigned their commissions and offered their services to the State of their birth. [I]t was believed by many persons that a large party at the North would oppose the prosecution of a war of subjugation.

It will be remembered . . . how strong had been the party opposed to secession in the Convention then in session at Richmond . . . [but] The call upon Virginia, by President Lincoln for her quota of troops to aid in subjugating the South, had settled the question [and] she became a member of the Confederacy.

I had visited, some months previous to the secession of the State, many of the little villages in New England, where I saw that the population [was] in terrible earnest. “Wide awake,” and other secret societies were organized; and inflammatory harangues aroused the populace. The favorite theme of the orators was the “martyrdom” of John Brown; the piratical and murderous raid of that fanatic into the State of Virginia being exalted into a praiseworthy act of heroism.

When I returned to Virginia and contrasted the apparent apathy and want of preparation there with the state of affairs at the North, I trembled for the result. Volunteers responded with alacrity to the call to defend the State from invasion; and none responded more readily, or served more bravely, than those who had opposed secession in the Convention.

It seems invidious to cite particular examples; but the “noblest Trojan of them all”  will point a moral, and serve as an exemplar for generations to come. Wise in council, eloquent in debate, bravest and coolest among the brave in battle, and faithful to his convictions in adversity, he still lives to denounce falsehood and wrong. Truly the old hero, in all he says and does, “gives the world assurance of a man.” — I allude to General J. A. Early.”

(Narrative of a Blockade Runner, John Wilkinson, Valde Books, 2009, pp. 3-5)

Lincoln's Political Millenium

Southern conservative M.E. Bradford saw Lincoln as the politician he was – one who used the abolitionist movement as a partisan tactic to destroy the Democratic Party in the North and pursued Alexander Hamilton’s dream of a commercial empire. The Northern military victory enabled Lincoln’s to break with the original Constitution and implement a new interpretation with the support of fellow revolutionaries.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Lincoln’s Political Millenium

“Lincoln’s personal opinions about and his actual public policies toward African Americans are evidence, according to Bradford, that partisan politics were behind Lincoln’s high-sounding rhetoric . . . His claim that a nation half free and half slave cannot endure in spite of a historical record to the contrary, the Black Codes of his home State of Illinois, the racist attitudes of his Northern electoral base, his support for recolonization of African Americans to Liberia, selective emancipation, and the plight of freedmen overall (at the Hampton Roads Conference of 1865 Lincoln is quoted as saying they can “root, hog, or die”) give an empty ring to his rhetoric of universal human rights.

As Bradford poignantly remarked, “For the sake of such vapid distinctions he urged his countrymen to wade through seas of blood.”  . . . [Can] one reasonably assume that Lincoln was zealously obsessed with the pursuit of power for a just cause and that the “seas of blood” that flowed during his tenure were justifiable consequences of his “new birth of freedom” he alluded to in his Gettysburg Address? Or, was there a more mundane motive behind Lincoln’s policies, with the ensuing war unexpectedly getting out of hand?

There can be little question that Lincoln and his Republican supporters had a mundane public policy agenda that overshadowed the rhetoric and legacy of their tenure in power. That agenda was Hamiltonian, insofar as it required a substantial transfusion of power from the States to the national government, in order for the latter to more effectively promote the style and pace of development toward a commercial empire and the corresponding opportunities for personal and national profits that such rapid commercial development entailed.

The politically contentious issues of internal improvements, the national bank, and [tariff] protectionism made giant strides on behalf of national supremacy during the Lincoln Administration. In fact the Gilded Age can be traced to the political economy of those Republicans who controlled the national government in the early 1860s:

“It is customary to deplore the Gilded Age, the era of the Great Barbeque. It is true that many of the corruptions of the Republican Era came to a head after Lincoln lay to rest in Springfield. But it is a matter of fact that they began either under his direction or with his sponsorship. Military necessity, the “War for the Union,” provided an excuse, and umbrella of sanction, under which the essential nature of the changes made in the relation of government to commerce could be concealed [Bradford, Remembering Who We Are, 146].”

Lincoln’s rhetoric in the Gettysburg Address reveals the importance of a Republican Party committed to the fulfillment of Hamilton’s dream of a commercial empire. The emergence of a commercial empire within the conceptual framework of Lincoln’s incorporation of the Declaration [of Independence] into the Constitution (or vice versa) would result in the political millennium he alludes to in the Gettysburg Address.

And Lincoln had good reason to be optimistic. During the Republican Party’s Civil War and postbellum dominance, the use of government as a means toward commercial expansion and personal aggrandizement was shifted into overdrive.

[And] Lincoln’s expansive interpretation of presidential powers made him the most imperial president in American history, thereby setting a dangerous precedent for predisposed successors. The incarceration of approximately twenty-thousand political prisoners, the closing of over three hundred newspapers, the interruptions of State legislatures, the blockade of the South, the unilateral suspension of habeas corpus, explicit and implicit defiance of the Supreme Court, the sanctioning of the creation of West Virginia, private property seizures, and electioneering/voting irregularities have all been rationalized as necessary war measures.

[Bradford suggests] the evidence indicates that “in this role the image of Lincoln grows to be very dark – indeed, almost sinister . . . Thousands of Northern boys lost their lives in order that the Republican Party might experience rejuvenation, to serve its partisan goals.”

(A Southern Reactionary’s Affirmation of the Rule of Law, Marshall L. DeRosa; A Defender of Southern Conservatism, M.E. Bradford and His Achievements, Clyde N. Wilson, editor, University of Missouri Press, 1999, pp. 111-113)

Deep Seated Hostility Toward the South

William Lowndes Yancey of Alabama pointed to the relentless pressure from Northern States for trade advantages at the expense of the rest of the country while resisting any increase of new States friendly toward Southern interests. It should be noted also that Southern States were “free States” like the North though with an African labor system – and Northern States were former slaveholding States with many employing wage-slaves.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Deep-Seated Hostility Toward the South

“Yancey now saw the dangers . . . divined in the combination of tariff increases, repeal of the Gag Rule, and especially the exclusion of Texas. “I can see in this a deeply seated hostility to the South – a disposition to circumscribe it – to surround it with people and institutions hostile to it,” he began. The Missouri Compromise, he reminded New Yorkers, gave the free States the bulk of western territories enough to make twenty-six new States, according to his calculations.

Once the Union admitted Florida as a slave State, Yancey pointed out that slaveholders had nowhere else to turn. And yet, the Texas annexation – with the possibility of dividing that region into five slave States – “frighten[s] Northern men out of their wits about the enormous preponderance which annexation will bring to the South!”

So, he concluded, while Maine pressed her lumber interests in Congress, western States called for federal internal improvements, Pennsylvania and New England sought advantage for their industry and New York for commerce, “the South but urges annexation as a protection against assailants! Do you not see the difference?”

[Yancey] asserted that Northerners would cut their own throats by harming the peculiar institution. It was the produce of slave labor, not free labor, Yancey claimed, that resulted in the commercial prosperity of New York. [And] Yancey correctly noted that the Constitution’s three-fifths provision that many Northerners blamed for increasing Southern political power actually limited representation. If Northerners forced the end of slavery, African Americans in the South would suddenly count as five-fifths . . . for determining representation in Congress.

(William Lowndes Yancey, The Coming of the Civil War, Eric H. Walther, UNC Press, 2006, pp. 81-82)

Davis on Government Border Police

In December 1860, Senator James S. Green of Missouri proposed that the Committee of the Judiciary be instructed to inquire into the propriety of a law to establish an armed police force between North and South, in order to maintain peace between those sections. Below is Senator Jefferson Davis’ reply.

Bernhard Thuersam, www.circa1865.org

 

Davis on Government Border Police

“Do we wish to erect a central Colossus, wielding at discretion the military arm, and exercising military force over the people and the States? This is not the Union to which we were invited; and so carefully was this guarded, when our fathers provided for using force to put down insurrection, they required that the fact of the insurrection should be communicated by the authorities of the State before the President could interpose.

When it was proposed to give Congress power to execute the laws against a delinquent State, it was refused on the ground that that would be making war on the States; and, though I know the good purpose of my honorable friend from Missouri is only to give protection to constitutional rights, I fear his proposition is to rear a monster, which will break the feeble chain provided, and destroy rights it was intended to guard.

That military Government which he is about to institute, by passing into hostile hands, becomes a weapon for his destruction, not for his protection. All dangers which may be called upon to confront as independent communities are light, in my estimation, compared with that which would hang over us if this Federal Government had such physical force; if its character was changed from a representative agent of States to a central Government, with a military used at discretion against the States.

To-day it may be the idea that it will be used against some State which nullifies the Constitution and the laws; some State which passes laws to obstruct or repeal the laws of the United States . . . But how long might it be before that same military force would be turned against the minority section which had sought its protection; and that minority thus become mere subjugated provinces under the great military government that it had thus contributed to establish?

The minority, incapable of aggression, is, of necessity, always on the defensive, and often the victim of the desertion of its followers and the faithlessness of its allies. It therefore must maintain, not destroy, barriers.

[To confer on this Federal Government a power to coerce a State, a power it does not possess], . . . then, in the language of Mr. Madison, he is providing, not for a union of States, but for the destruction of States; he is providing, under the name of the union, to carry on a war against States; and I care not whether it be against Massachusetts or Missouri, it is equally objectionable to me; and I will resist it alike in the one case and in the other, as subversive of the great principle on which our Government rests; as a heresy to be confronted at its first presentation, and put down there, lest it grow into proportions which will render us powerless before it.

The theory of our Constitution, Mr. President, is one of peace, of equality of sovereign States. It was made by States and made for States; and for greater assurance they passed an amendment, doing that which was necessarily implied by the nature of the instrument, as it was a mere instrument of grants. But, in the abundance of caution, they declared that everything which had not been delegated was reserved to the States, or to the people – that is, to the State governments as instituted by the people of each State, or to the people in their sovereign capacity.

Upon you of the majority section it depends to restore peace and perpetuate the Union of equal States; upon us of the minority section rests the duty to maintain our equality and community rights; and the means in one case or the other must be such as each can control.”

(The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government, Volume I, Jefferson Davis, D. Appleton and Company, 1881, pp. 66-67)