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" How beautiful upon the mountains, arc the feet of him that bringeth glad tidings
that publisheth Peace."— Isaiah, LII., v. 7.
An article entitled, " Some of the Keasons why I am
Opposed to the Present War," appeared in the Journal of
Commerce of 1st July, 1861 — before a change had taken
elseif (getClientWidth() > 430)
place in the proprietorship of that paper. The article is
republished now, because it will make a suitable appendix
to the present paper, and also, because the time has come
" to take an observation."
Christmas suggests our subject — " Peace on earth, and
good will to men."
Yes ! we write for Peace — that, for this distracted and
"veil nigh ruined land
" No more the thirsty Erynnis 6f the soil,
" Shall daub her lips with her own children's blood ;
" No more shall trenched war channel her ttelds,
" Nor bruise her flowers with the armed hoof
" Of hostile paces."
With Peace, we desire the restoration of the Union, if
that great blessing can yet be obtained, but we are, at all
events, for Peace — an early, honorable Peace, Whatever
•^^V^ ... . :
war may accom}3iish lor dissolution and despotism, in
Peace alone is there any hope for the United States of
In this unnatural strife enough blood has been shed,
enough loss and suffering inflicted, to glut the fiercest dis-
position. The power that has been exercised ; the money
that has been squandered ; the preferments that have been
bestowed, ought to appease thel most voracious appetite.
But, "there are three things," saith Solomon, "which
are never satisfied." Had he lived till our day he might
have added to the number. What will abate the rapacity
of an army of contractors ; the importunity of an army of
place hunters ? What will satisfy the intolerance of a
cruel faction ; the cravings of unscrupulous ambition ?
Nothing ! We do not propose to address any such
people. The association would be disagreeable, and the
labor certainly wasted. We do, with confidence, address
those who refuse to bow down to Baal, or to worship the
image that Nebuchadnezzar has set up ; those who " love
the things that make for Peace ;" who are at heart sick of
this war; of the wickedness and incompetency it has dis-
closed ; of the profligacy and crime it has engendered ; of
the horrors that everywhere follow in its train ; those who
are unwilling longer to see tlie country abandoned to the
ruinous experiments of a wild and reckless party ; those
who value the rights of an American citizen, who view the
rapid strides of military despotism with jealousy and ap-
prehension ;- who are unwilling that personal liberty should
any longer be held subject to the impertinent tyranny of
every Jack in oflice, or that the Bastile should supersede
the Jury box, and the novel pretensions of martial law an-
nul the law of the land.
I Against tlie voice of Peace a great outcry will of course be
^ raised by those wlio have a direct pecuniary, political or pi-
^ ous interest in prolonging the war; by those who, for years,
^ have labored to bring about tlie present condition of things;
^ by those who are at all times ready to sell our birthright,
fellow citizens, for their misei'able mess of African pottage.
We will not be disturbed by their clamor, nor denuncia-
tions, nor threats, nor even by their violence. Calmly and
freely we will consider tlie matter, for ourselves, and for
those who are to come after us. They will bellow out
" Treason," " Traitor," with all the variations. Those .
terms 'have been quite honored lately, and an honest man
may now accept them without reproach, if not without ap-
prehension. A good while ago, one Doctor Samuel John-
son sarcastically defined patriotism as " the last refuge of
a scoundrel." The world changes, but men and morals
remain substantially the same. ■ Our accusers, having
monopolized all the patriotism of the land, share it with
none, except their confederates and tools.
" But," say they, " treat with rebels! Peace with rebels!
No terms for rebels, but unconditional submission?" Yes,
Treat ! and Peace, and Terms ; ye lifelong rebels against
God's righteous government, daily dependents on His
goodness and mercy, by all your hopes of salvation, yes !
And ye say the Lord's Prayer doubtless, " Forgive us our
trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us,"
and sing, with lifted eyes,
" That mercy I to others show,
That mercy show to me."'
and have no fear of judgment, but thank God that ye are
not as other men. " Upon what meat hath this, our Caesar
fed, that he hath grown so great ?" Have ye forgotten
" that your father was an Amorite, and your mother a
Hittite ;" that ye are the children of rebels against "the
best Government that ever existed ?"
But " Eebels have no rights." The saying is somewhat
stale. Vattel's comment on it is : " the languag-e of flat-
terers and wicked rulers \" We will say no more lest the
spirits of our noble ancestors should be scandalised by the
^'Unconditional submission !" They would not be their
father's children should they render it ; you would despise
them if .they did ; you well know that such terms are im-
possible, and therefore you insist upon them.
The separation of the Colonies from the mother coun-
try was a foi'ced separation. The treaty of Peace which
terminated the contest, acknowledged "the United States,
each State by itself, severally named, " to be free, sovereign
and independent States." The subsequent Union of those
States, under 'the 'j^resent Constitution, was voluntary,
each State, in the final act of ratification, acting by itself
and for itself. A compulsory Union would not have been
tolerated, could not have been formed.
The pur2)oses for which that Union was established are
fully disclosed in the preamble to the Constitution. " We,
the people of the United States, in order to form a more
perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility,
provide for the common defence, promote the general ivel-
fare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our
posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America."
The preamble, is as much a part of the Constitu-
tion as any article in it — the Sacramental clause —
the key to the whole instrument. It declares the ob-
jects of the Union. Those objects were the induce-
ments to the contract, without which it would
never have been entered into. When those inducements
fail, the contract ceases.
Let us suppose that, after a full and fair trial, the Union
is found not " to establish justice," nor '' to insure domes-
tic tranquility," nor " to provide for the common defence,"
nor " to j)romote the general welfare," nor " to secure the
blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity," nor " to
form a more perfect union," must it, nevertheless, continue
to bind the parties — the living to the dead ? Assuredly
not. Now, all, or nearly all, of this is affirmed by the
South against the Union. After years of agitation and
vain attempts to be made secure against the alleged wrongs
and injuries, believing that her difficulties and dangers in-
crease continually, and that her relative means of resistance
continually diminish, she has resorted to extreme measures,
which all, save a wicked faction, equally deplore, but which
all are not equally disposed to condemn.
If the complaints of the South are just and reasonable ;
if she sincerly believes that redress and protection can be
obtained in no other way, she has done right — otherwise
she has done wrong. Good faith, as parties to the contract ;
the great vested interests of the whole country ; the cause
of freedom, and the necessities of social order forbid that
any Government, and esj^ecially this Eepublican Govern-
ment of ours, should hold its lease of life by the frail
tenure of caprices; or unreasonable complaints; or petty
interests; or speculative and fanciful dangers. Is it at all
probable that such insubstantial motives have governed the
South, and directed the course she has taken ? We think
There always have been and always will be, in every
country, a class of people whose element is turmoil and
distraction ; vain, noisy, selfish demagogues, of one idea,
restless, ambitious and unscrupulous persons, who seek to
promote discord, strife and revolution, that they may live
and fatten thereby ; but all such, however important in
their circle, club or district, are powerless against the basis
of society, unless the popular will and interest direct the
blow. Society is no fool. It knows when it is well treated
and where its advantage lies. There is not an instance
of a people rising up against a good Government and
throwing it off, but there are many instances of their
patience and long suffering, under every species of bad
Government. " All experience hath shown, that mankind
" are more disposed to suffer while evils are sufiferable, than
" to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which
"they are accustomed." (See Declaration of Independence.)
Says Alex. Hamilton, in a speech before the New York
Convention for the ratification of the Constitution : " We
'•' have been told that the old Confederation has proved
" inefficacious, only because intriguing and powerful men
" have been forever instigating the people, and rendering
'<■ them dissatisfied with it. This, sir, is a false insinuation.
" The thing is impossible. I will venture to assert that no
"■ combination of designing men under Heaven, will be
" capable of making a good Government unpopular."
(Elliot's Deb. V. ii. p 253.)
To tlie great mass of the Southern people Secession
was a disagreeable step, taken reluctantly, with a heavy
heart, and a continual hoping that something might occur
which would enable them to retrace their course. Had a
wise and conciliatory policy been promptly adopted, with
a proper show of strength and resolution to protect the
right, every one of the Southern States might have been
brought peaceably back, and the Union restored to more
than its former greatness and stability. We chose a dif-
ferent method, and invoked the spirit of coercion. The
first peal of an hostile bugle, as it echoed along the hills
and valleys of Virginia, awoke the United South with a
shock as inevitable as that which flashed upon the colonies
when the news ran that British troops had marched on
Lexington and Concord. The first invasion of Southern
soil was sealed with blood ; — blood and destruction have
followed it ever since. Fellow citizens, this is not the land,
nor is liberty the tree to bear coercion, other than the co-
ercion of law.
Against all this we hear no logical answer. The
grand argument is : " The best Government that ever ex-
isted." So it is, for us of the North, and always has been.
We have had Peace in all our borders ; domestic tranquil-
ity has been insured ; nobody has meddled with our affairs,
or attempted to dictate to us what we should do or not do;
we have not been disturbed in our persons and in our pro-
perty, and the highest blessings of liberty have been ours,
fully to enjoy, without molestation. With the people of
the South it has not been so. They have not had Peace
in all their borders, nor has domestic tranquility been in-
sured to them. Nor have they enjoyed the highest bles-
sings of liberty without nn)lestation. These many j^ears
we have been intermeddling with them — attending to their
affairs quite as much as we have attended to our own, if
not a little more. We have given them no rest,day nor night,
in their possessions; or their comfort ; or their reputation ;
or their personal safety. In the proper exercise of undoubt-
ed right, we have denied, or thwarted and crossed them in
every possible way. We have vexed them continually
with harsh, insulting, and abusive language, using the
vilest epithets, the bitterest denunciations. Had they been
a race of pirates, robbers, and outlaws — the refuse of the
earth, we could not have said more against them than we
have said. By teachings of the pulpit, the lecture room,
the school, and the fireside, a generation has been taught
to hate them. It has learned the lesson well, and, in its
ignorance, verily believes that Southern Chivalry is but
another term for lust and cruelty, pride, arrogance and ir-
religion. Could such a state of things continue forever ?
It was impossible ! " A house divided against itself can-
not stand." The South finally concluded that, notwith-
standing the great advantages of the Union, it was not the
best Government for them.
We are told that " the Government did not do these
. things." A Government of negative virtues only, is but
half a Government, if so much as that. It will not answer
to say merely, that Government does no wrong. If it is
powerless to prevent wrong it is radically defective. A
Government which fails to secure, to any portion of its peo-
ple, the enjoyment of their material rights and interests, is
not a good Government to them, whatever it may be to
" What care I, how fair she be,
If she be not fair tome."
At this jioint of the discussion we shall be told that " Sla-
very is the cause of all the trouble — only do away with that,
and everything will go well." With greater j^ropriety might a
highwayman make the like complaint against my pm'se ;
hecause, he breaks no faith with me, never gave a pledge,
nor received a compensation; he never enjoyed my hospital-
ity, nor profited by my labor, nor swore eternal friendship ;
and finally, because, you impiously, rob, for " Chrisfs
sake;" he, very devoutly, for his own.
Had the people of this country always acknowledged the
right of a State to secede for cause, as a revolutionary right;
had they realized the possibility of such an occurrence and
the consequences of it ; all, North and South, would have
been under bonds to keep the peace, which would not have
been broken. There would have been no Secession, no dis-
solution, no war.
The idea of sustaining the Union by force, is of modern
date. We propose briefly to examine it by the old lights ;
by the authority of the Federal Convention, and the opin-
ions of the leading men of that day, who were prominent
members of that Convention, and \ ery influential in estab-
lishing the Grovernment.
In the Convention, the plan of the Constitution under
discussion contained a clause authorising the Grovernment
"to call forth the forces of the Union against any member of
the Union failing to fulfill its duties under the articles there-
of" When this clause came up for debate, Mr. Madison ob-
served, tliat " the more he reflected on the use of force, the
" more he doubted the practicability, the justice and the
" efficacy of it, when applied to the people collectively and
" not individually; a Union of the States containing such an
" ingredient seemed to provide for its own destruction.
" The use of force against a State would look more like a
" declaration of war than an infliction of punishment, and
" would probably be considered by the party attacked as a
" dissolution of all compacts by which it might be bound.
'' He had hoped such a system might be framed as might
" render that recourse unnecessary, and moved that the
" clause be postponed." The motion was agreed to nem
con. (See Madison Papers, p 761, [v. ii.])
By the same: "Any Government for the United States,
" founded on the supposed probability of using force
" against the unconstitutional proceedings of the States,
'' would prove* visionary and fallacious as the government
" of Congress." (lb, p 822, [v. ii.])
Again : " The clause to subdue rebellion in any State, on
■' the application of its Legislature," was next considered.
" " Mr. Pinckney moved to strike out ' on the application
"of its Legislature.' Mr. Governeur Morris seconded.
'•' Mr. Luther Martin opposed ' as giving a dangerous and
" unnecessary power. The consent of the States ought to
" precede the introduction of any extraneous force
" Mr. Mercer supported the proj)osition of Mr. JIartin.
" Mr. Oliver Ellsworth proposed to add after 'Legisla-
" ture,' 'or Executive.'
" Mr. Moms: 'The Executive may possibly be at the head
"of the Rebellion.'
" Mr. Ellsworth: 'In many cases the General Govern-
" ment ought not to be able to interpose, unless called
" upon. He was willing to vary his motion, so as to
" read ' or without it when the Legislature cannot meet."
" Mr. Eldridge Gerry was ' against letting loose the myi'-
" midons of the United States on a State, without its own
"consent. The States will be the best judges in such
" Mr. Langdon was ' for striking out, as moved by Mr,
" Pinckney. The apprehension of the National force will
" have a salutary effect in preventing insurrection/
"Ml". Edmund Randolph: ' If the National Legislature
"is to be the judge whether the State Legislature can or
" cannot meet, that amendment will make the clause as
" objectionable as the motion of Mr. Pinckney.'
" Mr. Morris: 'We are acting a' very strange jjart. We first
" form a strong man to protect ns, and at the same time
" wish to tie his hands behind him. The Legislature may
" surely be trusted with such a power to preserve the pub-
" lie tranquility.'
" On the motion to add to, 'on the application of its
" Legislature,' ' or without it when the Legislature cannot
" meet,' it was agreed to, 5 to 3.
" Mr, Madison and Mr. Dickenson moved to insert, as
"explanatory after, 'State' ' against the Government there-
" of ;' ' there might be rebellion against the United States.'
" Agreed to," nem con.
" On the clause as amended, the vote stood, 4 to 4 — so it
"was lost. The delegates from Mass. and Pa. were ab-
" sent. On the printed Journal, Mass. is stated as having
" voted in the negative. (Madison papers pp. 1349, 50, 51,
" Mr. Dickenson moved to strike out ' on the application
"of the Legislature, against.' He thought it of essen-
" tial importance to the tranquility of the United States,
" that they should, in all cases, suppress domestic violence
" which may proceed from the Legislature itself, or from
" disputes between the two branches, when such exist.' On
" the question, ayes 3, nays 8.
" Mr. Dickenson moved to insert the words 'or Executive'
" after the words, ' application of its Legislature.' Ayes 8,
"nays 2, (lb. pp. 1466, 67, 68.)
" On tbe question on the clause as amended — ayes 9,
" nays 2."
The clause as adopted is as Tollows : " The United
" States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Re-
" publican form of Government, and shall protect each of
" them against invasion, and, 07i application of the Legis-
" lature, or of the Executive^ (when the Legislature cannot
"be convened) against domestic violence." (See Con. U.S.
Art. iv. Sec. 4.)
The Constitution, as adopted, was sent to the several
States for ratification. The States called their several Con-
ventions. In those Conventions the instrument was tho-
roughly discussed and criticised, previous to its adoption.
In the Convention of New York, Mr. Lansing, a mem-
ber: "I know not if History furnishes an example of a Con-
" federated Republic coercing the States composing it, by
" the mild influence of Law, operating on the individuals
" of those States. It, is, therefore, I suppose, to be
" a new experiment in politics." (Elliot's Deb. v. ii., p. 221.)
Mr. Alexander Hamilton, a member, and a delegate to
the Federal Convention : "It has been observed, to coerce
' the States, is one of the maddest projects that was ever
' devised. A failure of compliance will never be confined
' to a single State. This being the case, can we sujjpose
' it wise to hazard a civil war ? What a picture does this
' present to our view. A complying State at war with a
' non-comjjlying State. Congress marching the troops of
' one State into the bosom of another. This State collect-
' ing auxilliaries, and forming, perhaps, a majority against
' the Federal head. Here is a nation at war with itself.
" Can any man be well disposed towards a Government
" wliicli makes war and carnage the only means of sup-
" porting itself; a Government that can exist only by the
" sword ? Every such war must involve the innocent with
" the guilty. This single consideration should be sufficient
" to dispose every peaceable citizen against such a Govern-
" ment. But can we believe that one State ivill suffer it-
" seJf to he used as an instrument of coercion ? The thing
" is a dream. It is impossible /" (lb. v. ii., p. 232.)
In the Convention of Connecticut, Mr. Oliver Ellsworth,
a member and a deles-ate to the Federal Convention: '' Thus
" we see, how necessary for the Union is a coercive force.
" The only question is : Shall it be a coercion of Law, or
" a coercion of arms ? There is no other possible alterna-
" tive. Where will those who oppose a coercion of Law
" come out ? Where will they end ? A necessary conse-
" quence of this is, a war of tlie States, one against the
" other. I am for coercion by Law ; that coercion which
" acts only upon the delinquent individuals. This Consti-
" tution does not attempt to coerce sovereign bodies. States,
" in their political capacity. No coercion is applicable to
■"such bodies but that of an armed force. If we should
" attempt to execute the Laws of the United States by
" sending an armed force against a delinquent State, it
" would involve the good and the bad, the innocent and the
"guilty, in one common calamity." (lb. v. ii. p. 199.)
In the Convention of North Carolina, Mr. Davies, a mem-
ber, and a delegate to the Federal Convention, " For my
" own part, I know of but two ways in which the Laws can
" be executed by any Government. If there be any other,
" it is unknown to me. The first mode is, coercion by
" military force ; and the second is, coercion through the
" Judiciary. With respect to a coercion by force, I shall
" suppose that it is so repuo-nant to the principles of justice
" and the feelings of a free people, that no man will snp-
" port it. It must, in the end, terminate in the destruc-
" tion of the liberty of the people. I take it, therefore,
" that there is no rational way of enforcing the Laws but
"by the instrumentality of the Judiciary.
" If the Laws are not to be carried into execution by the
" interposition of the Judiciary, how is it to be done ? I
" have already observed, that the mind of every honest
" man, who has any feeling for the happiness of his coun-
"try, must have the highest repugnance to the idea of mil-
" itary coercion." (lb. v. iv, pp 164-5.)
The great defect of the Federal Constitution was, that
it provided no means for enforcing obedience to the Gen-
eral Government. The only remedy was military force, em-
ployed against a State, which was civil war and dissolution.
The difhculty was obviated in the present Constitution,
by making the Judiciary the coercive force, bearing on in-
dividuals. This remedy ignores the use of military force,
except in certain cases, and under certain limitations, and
only then, as an auxilliary })ower, in the nature of a fosst
comitatus, to aid the Judicial officer in the performance
of his duty. (For this, see the Federalist, beginning
with No. XV.)
Whatever may be said of these authorities, they certain-
ly dispose of the assertion, that those who established our
Government failed to provide against the present crisis,
because thev could not have forseen it. ,. ,^
The Union, unbroken, lasted for lP»;^nty years and
upwards. Under it we prospered greatly. With no other
nation has it ever been as with this nation. For the ra-
pidity of its growth, in territorial extent and po[)ular num-
bers; in riclies and power; in the diffusion of knowledge; the
developement of intelligence ; the cultivation of the
sciences and the polite arts ; it lias excited the admiration
or the jealousy of the civilized world.
Fearless of foreign invasion, confident of our resources,
we have thought ourselves secure. Now and then dark
clouds have lifted above our own horizon, but they
seemed to vanish away. Harsh mutterings of domestic
discord would be heard, but the sound was too remote
and too faint to portend a storm, or our slumbers