R. H Hare.

A Union letter from a countryman to his fellow-citizens of Howard County online

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A UNION LETTER FROM A COUNTRYMAN



y FELLOW-CITIZENS OF HOWARD COUNTY.



^ K . //. ^vw.



My Friends —

Born in the city of Pliiladelphia, for the past thirteen years I
have resided amongst you, happy in the quiet retirement of a coun-
try life, rendered secure and peaceful by the laws and the inclina-
tions of a people long accustomed to self-government. The
obligation thus created I shall try, in some measure, to requite,
by a fearless statement of our perilous situation. All my present
possessions are within the limits of our State, nearly the centre of
that vast empire, whose diversity in unity has up to the present
moment, been the wonder of mankind. In the history of the world,
it was but yesterday that Galileo, after recanting the truth that
the earth moved round the sun, rose from his knees in the cathe-
dral, upon which he had been forced by dogmatists, with an Italian
expression, half whispered, " She does move for all that." Since
then, in spite of dogma, physical science has emancipated itself, and
the natural result of the great principles developed has been an
improvement in human capacity, a greater development of civili-
zation, now in the opinion of mankind, best exemplified by the
wonderful constitution of our own dear country.

There can be no doubt that the fathers who framed our Consti-
tution looked with uneasiness upon the disruptive tendencies that
might develop themselves, from that very diversity which has here-
tofore—and I say with confidence— must hereafter prove the chief
advantage of our relation. Jefferson and Madison, by the careful
preparation of the acts of cession, by which Virginia yielded her
vast empire to the diverse use of our common people, showed their
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just appreciation of those great and controlling conditions that
should always guide the statesman. They, by the act of Virginia,
first passed in 1784, for the cession of the Northwest Territory in-
dicated, and by the act of the District of Kentucky, 1790, accept-
ing the permissory act of Virginia, passed in 1789, affirmed the
new principle that has since guided our national action with re-
gard to territory acquired since the adoption of the Constitution,
with the exception only of the State of Missouri, excepted by Mr.
Clay's general compromise act of 1820.

Two points in these transactions deserve your notice : First, that
Virginia permitted Kentucky, of her own accord, to use the words
continuing slavery, while Congress did not even assume the right
to examine the Constitution thus adopted. Second. The act of
cession by North Carolina, in 1790, of Tennessee, as a Territory,
provided that no regulation made or to be made by Congress, shall
tend to emancipate slaves, and these acts, with that of 1784, produced
in final form as the ordinance of 1787, supplied the precedent for
the Compromise Act of March, 1820, permitting and prohibiting
slavery on either side of the line, originally drawn by Virginia be-
tween her northwest territory, and the territory of Tennessee.
With the subsequent history of your country, you are well ac-
quainted. You know that an ultra spirit has predominated in two
extreme States, South Carolina and Massachusetts. You also know
that until the recent election, the spirit of sectional opposition has,
in obedience to the counsels of the father of his country, been kept
in check by the patriotism of the Middle States. It becomes now
my duty to warn you that the recent choice of Mr. Lincoln, law-
fully elected, by a vote of scarcely more than one-third of the whole
vote cast, is chiefly to be attributed to the machinations of the
traitors in South Carolina, and their associates, who would urge you
on to rebellion against imaginary evils, rather than permit you, by
a firm reliance upon law — the only stronghold of civilization — to
overcome them, in common with the other enemies of your coun-
try. Listen to their insane advice; and those very rights of property
which they say are endangered, will presently lose their force in
the disintegration of the community. He who refuses to submit to
a law so mild and sufficient in its remedies as that excellent Consti-
tution, which, for a period of seventy-two years, has proved a sure
protection, must soon find himself unable to be a law unto others,
whom a wise God has made his dependants.



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Had not South Carolina deserted ns at a crisis of her own crea-
tion, we could have restrained any- tyrannical acts of the incoming
administration, and if the other cotton States stand by us, spite of
South Carolina, we can still restrain it, should any act to justify
such a course be committed, which wc ought not to presume, by
an appeal to the whole of our people in their sovereign capacity.
This appeal should be made prior to the fall State elections, asking
them to choose legislatures pledged to the calling of a General Con-
vention. Should such a convention assemble, it can, in perfect ac-
cordance with the terms of our great bond, appoint a near day for
the election of a more reliable chief magistrate. Civil war and the
disgrace of unnecessary tumultuous action will be thus avoided.
Meanwhile we may make trial of men who have proffered to us
the following measures of justice and conciliation : —

First. The admission of New Mexico as a slave, at the same time
that Kansas be admitted as a free State, coupled with the condition,
that returned fugitives shall be submitted to a trial in the place
whence they escaped. Now I must tell you that for the past six
weeks, I have been in almost daily consultation with many of the
first lawyers that that city of lawyers, Philadelphia, can boast, who
without reference to any advantage to be granted us, by way of
compromise, have arrived at the conclusion, that the inconvenience
involved in such a course, will be more than compensated by the
greater facility of capture, and the diminution of the expense of
such capture, when the owner is permitted to establish the identity
of his servant, by the deposition of witnesses at the point of escape.
It is also proposed that the United States shall see to your com-
pensation in cases of forcible rescue, and pay all expenses, until
such time as the fugitive shall be surrendered to his master.

Their second offer is to procure the repeal of all personal liberty
bills, and faithfully to enforce the law in the recapture of fugitives,
a thing, they say, more easy for their officers in disaffected regions,
than for men opposed to the popular sympathy. Now of the last
purpose, they have already given us assurance, by passing through
Congress by a tremendous majority, a resolution to have the per-
sonal liberty bills repealed. There is but one further contingency
to be considered; a contingency that the news of every day renders
less probable. That the other cotton States shall follow the lead of
South Carolina, how should you then act? I have still the same
reply. Instead of involving yourself in a common treason, turn to



the American people, avoid abstract issues, but instantly demand
redress for any practical difficulties. The planters of the south, on
whom the country has heretofore so justly depended, will have
shown that they wanted force to support themselves; if they leave
the Union at the bidding of the free trade Yancey ite faction, the
consequences must fall on their own devoted heads.

The north, on the other hand, is rapidly recovering from the
durance of the Sumner or abolition form of Jacobinism. Had
South Carolina abstained from the attack on our forts, the excellent
amendments to the Constitution, proposed by the veteran Critten-
den, might have passed spite of the attempt of the disunion party
to defeat them, by complicating the question, with a dispute
whether the word employed with reference to slavery should be
protect, or permit, thus attempting to compel Congress to say
affirmatively that slavery must exist, an abstract issue always, as
you will see by the precedents which I have cited, wisely avoided
by the fathers of the Constitution.

The American people will yield nothing to force, and the cap-
ture of our forts by Carolina has given an impulse to the country.
As Galileo said, it still moves in its accustomed orbit. Long may
its motion continue! Rouse yourselves, my fellow-countrymen!
shake off the fatal torpor that from the gangrened extremities
has affected your circulation. Forget all locality; unfurl the
old standard; shout till the welkin rings again, God and our
native land! Swear each man to the other, every county to the
next, and each State to the remaining whole, to preserve this
our great heritage unimpaired. Born through God's grace and
your fathers' valor in the Union, transmit unimpaired your
heritage; think of but one alternative— the grave. Submit to
no local majorities — yours is a joint tenancy. Thirty millions
enjoy the whole by common right. Tell those who in their selfish
concern for one form of property would involve all in a common
ruin, that they have mistaken the hearts of their countrymen, the
spirit of their nation ; that you will guard them from themselves.
Depend upon the conservative power of the majority, which will
ever restrain in practical government the most virulent theorists,
whose passions or whose talents may have given them an apparent
majority. The people who in Pennsylvania, for instance, voted for
Mr. Lincoln last autumn, are the same people enraged at the trick
of last spring in Charleston, who when calmer, elected that con-



servative Governor Packer, who last year gave such convincing
evidence of his nationality, and who as liis last official act will
insist upon full justice to the south, and more than mere consti-
tutional obligation to the conservative border States of Virginia,
Kentucky, and ^Faryland. For the calm, firm attitude of the
Governors of these states will call forth his affection and that of
her people to quicken their sense of duty.

And now, men of Maryland, leaving the threats and crimes of
others behind us, let us turn to those whose fathers stood with
ours at Brandywine, at Germantown, and at Princeton. There is
in an appendix an answer from the State of Green, who led you
to save these Carolinians from bondage; accept its favorable
language, and ask our brethren in such language as that hereto-
fore used by your manly Governor, for right; ask them for our
sakes to forget the insults heaped on a flag never before humiliated,
and to grant to their brethren what the wise Crittenden has asked
in the name of our common country. Let us ask them to do this
for our future protection. The New England States already re-
pent them of the evil ; even Mr. Francis Adams comes forward
with offers of concession ; let us encourage them by our conduct in
the cause, and then perhaps God will change the hearts of the
people of South Carolina and snatch them from that destruction
upon which they are now rushing.

R. H. HARE.

The Oaks, Dec. 30, 1S60.



To his Excellency the Governor of Rhode Island:

SiK: It is stated in the Herald of this day that you refuse to
recommend the repeal of the "Personal Liberty Bill" under a
threat. The statement is one with which all loyal men must feel
sympathy, and I therefore hasten to give your Excellency some
information, which it is to be hoped may make an impression upon
you.

All persons acquainted with the statistics of this country, know
that Maryland and Kentucky lose nearly all the fugitives from ser-
vice. Now, these two States have not only threatened nothing, but
have refused to take any steps towards a combination with others
having a like interest for the redress of their wrongs; they have



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thrown themselves upon the sense of justice of your State and of
others with which they have only a community of rights and obli-
gations under the Constitution.

The Constitution of the United States says, that the class of per-
sons alluded to "shall be delivered up," and the case of Mason v. The
People and State of Illinois (14 Howard's Eep. 13) has fully revived
the force of the original constitntional obligation at one time im-
paired by the language of Judge Story in the case of Prigg v. The
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The more effectually to remove from your Excellency's mind any
impression that may have been made by other States, or their in-
habitants, my friend Governor Francis will submit to you a copy
of a letter received from Governor Hicks, of Maryland, and, as a
citizen of that State, I leave it to your own conscience whether you
shall refuse justice to those who so calmly ask you for it.
I am, with great respect.

Your obedient servant,

R. H. HARE.

917 Chestnut St., Dec. 14, 18G0.



State of Rhode Island, etc. Executive Department,

Providence, Dec. 19, 1860.
Mr. R. H. Hare, 917 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia.

Dear Sir : I have received this day from the Hon. John Brown
Francis, the note yoa did me the honor to write, under date of the
14th inst. I could not permit a moment to pass without contra-
dicting the sentiments which you attribute to me. I have tele-
graphed my answer in the words of the inclosed printed slip. The
laws of Rhode Island simply prohibit the use of her prisons for the
reception of a fugitive slave, and forbids her officers, as such
officers, to aid in their recovery. She never intended to pass an
unconstitutional law, and she never wnll. I can speak for the
integrity of the people of Rhode Island. Rhode Island, the last to
come into the Union, will not be one to break the compact under
which she,- in common with the whole country, has so highly pros-
pered. Be assured Rhode Island will do everything in honor in
giving strength to the laws and in maintaining the integrity of the
Constitution, and that she is, without mistake, for maintaining the



integrity of the Union at all hazards. To have the unquestioned
right to this position, she will place herself squarely on the Consti-
tution in word and deed as well as in spirit.

I am, dear sir, your ob't serv't,

WM. SPRAGUE.



To His Excellency AVm. Si'Raoue, Governor of Rhode Island.

Sir : Your very kind letter was only received by me yesterday
on my return to a Christmas dinner with a Rhode Island mother,
after a week of hard work at Washington.

In my childhood I have played upon your sea-girt shore, and
all my life shall continue to honor the third altar raised by man to
religious freedom.

Born in Pennsylvania, from pncestry whipped out of Boston, for
conscience' sake, I have from choice pitched my tent in Maryland,
where Roman Catholics had precedence of Penn in the establish-
ment of religious liberty. At first, from motives of convenience,
I had no slaves for life, but when Massachusetts, true to her old
calling, expatriated the upright Loring, I purchased slaves of
African race the better to uphold moral freedom. Although de-
scended from Regicides, my nature does not consent to treason,
under the specious name of secession, and any in the border slave
States who may attempt to sever the ties that, bind these three
States together by so glorious a nativity, shall find my blood as
ready to be shed in the cause of freedom as that of thousands of
others in that region who fear God and love the State.

And now, sir, in these times of trouble, may that peace be with
you which passes all understanding.

I am, with great respect, your ob't serv't,

K. II. HARE.



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Online LibraryR. H HareA Union letter from a countryman to his fellow-citizens of Howard County → online text (page 1 of 1)