Similarity of Substance

Poeta nascitur non fit,”–we are taught as axiomatic by the highest authority. So, also, of nations–they are not made; neither can they be laid off upon the map, by rule and compass, to suit the fancy, interest, or whim of any man or set of men. After all the wars in Europe for the last five hundred years, the boundaries assumed in the beginning of their national lifehood are much the same to-day. Napoleon I. did not level the Pyrenees, neither could he. Spain and France exist now as they did before Rome and Carthage. Nations, then, are not made, but born; born of identity of race, language, interest; born of similarity of climate, production, pursuit; born of congeniality of thought, feeling, habit, taste, religion; born not of treaties, leagues, constitutions; born not of man, but of nature and of God. In nature similarity of substance is, the condition precedent to crystallization. A nation is a natural crystal, and similarity, also, is the condition and law of its being.

Judged by this criterion, how could, how can ever the Northern and Southern people unify? What similarity, pray, was there, or will there ever be, between Plymouth and Jamestown, between Boston and Charleston, Raleigh and Rochester, Nashville and Detroit, Milwaukee and Mobile, New Orleans and Chicago? What attraction could exist between Puritan and Cavalier, between Rev. Cotton Mather and Capt. John Smith, between the Blue Laws of Connecticut and the perfect toleration of Maryland? What congeniality is there between the productions of the North and the South; between the ice of New Pond and the rice of Santee river; the enormous granite monoliths of Quincy and the saccharine juiciness of the cane of Atchafalaya; between the Jerome clock of Connecticut and the cotton bale of Alabama? Whom, therefore, God and nature have put asunder, man cannot join together.

Southern Literary Messenger, Volume 32, Issue 2, Feb 1861; pp. 119.

Scant Respect

The right or wrong of slavery we need not discuss, or attempt to determine who was most responsible therefor. The institution is dead beyond the possibility of resurrection, and the whole nation is glad. The later geographical limitations of slavery in the United States were determined not by conscience, but by climate. It was climate at the North and the cotton-gin in the South that regulated the distribution of slave labor. I have scant respect for a conscience too sensitive to own certain property because it is immoral, but which without compunction will sell the same to another at full market value. Had the slaveholders of the North manumitted their slaves and not sold them because their labor ceased to be profitable, there would have been more respect for their subsequent abolition zeal. It is matter of pride with us that no Southern colony or state ever had a vessel engaged in the slave trade. And several of the Southern states were the first to pass stringent laws against the importation of African slaves.

Charles Betts Galloway, Jefferson Davis: A Judicial Estimate, Southern Methodist Review, Volume 57, Issue 4 (1908).

A Standing Menace to the South

Preamble and resolution

Offered in a large mass meeting of the people of Botetourt county, December 10th, 1860, by the Hon. John J. Allen, President of the Supreme court of Virginia, and adopted with but two dissenting voices.

The people of Botetourt county, in general meeting assembled, believe it to be the duty of all the citizens of the Commonwealth, in the present alarming condition of our country, to give some expression of their opinion upon the threatening aspect of public affairs. They deem it unnecessary and out of place to avow sentiments of loyalty to the constitution and devotion to the union of these States. A brief reference to the part the State has acted in the past will furnish the best evidence of the feelings of her sons in regard to the union of the States and the constitution, which is the sole bond which binds them together.
In the controversies with the mother country, growing out of the efforts of the latter to tax the colonies without their consent, it was Virginia who, by the resolutions against the stamp act, gave the example of the first authoritative resistance by a legislative body to the British Government, and so imparted the first impulse to the Revolution.

Virginia declared her independence before any of the colonies, and gave the first written constitution to mankind.

By her instructions her representatives in the General Congress introduced a resolution to declare the colonies independent States, and the declaration itself was written by one of her sons.

She furnished to the Confederate States the father of his country, under whose guidance independence was achieved, and the rights and liberties of each State, it was hoped, perpetually established.

She stood undismayed through the long night of the Revolution, breasting the storm of war and pouring out the blood of her sons like water on almost every battle-field, from the ramparts of Quebec to the sands of Georgia.

By her own unaided efforts the northwestern territory was conquered, whereby the Mississippi, instead of the Ohio river, was recognized as the boundary of the United States by the treaty of peace.

To secure harmony, and as an evidence of her estimate of the value of the union of the States, she ceded to all for their common benefit this magnificent region — an empire in itself.

When the articles of confederation were shown to be inadequate to secure peace and tranquility at home and respect abroad, Virginia first moved to bring about a more perfect union.

At her instance the first assemblage of commissioners took place at Annapolis, which ultimately led to the meeting of the convention which formed the present constitution.

This instrument itself was in a great measure the production of one of her sons, who has been justly styled the father of the constitution.

The government created by it was put into operation with her Washington, the father of his country, at its head; her Jefferson, the author of the Declaration of Independence, in his cabinet; her Madison, the great advocate of the constitution, in the legislative hall.

Under the leading of Virginia statesmen the Revolution of 1798 was brought about, Louisiana was acquired, and the second war of independence was waged.

Throughout the whole progress of the republic she has never infringed on the rights of any State, or asked or received an exclusive benefit.

On the contrary, she has been the first to vindicate the equality of all the States, the smallest as well as the greatest.

But claiming no exclusive benefit for her efforts and sacrifices in the common cause, she had a right to look for feelings of fraternity and kindness for her citizens from the citizens of other States, and equality of rights for her citizens with all others; that those for whom she had done so much would abstain from actual aggressions upon her soil, or if they could not be prevented, would show themselves ready and prompt in punishing the aggressors; and that the common government, to the promotion of which she contributed so largely for the purpose of “establishing justice and insuring domestic tranquility,” would not, whilst the forms of the constitution were observed, be so perverted in spirit as to inflict wrong and injustice and produce universal insecurity.

These reasonable expectations have been grievously disappointed.

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No Just Application Whatever

Map of Virginia: showing the distribution of its slave population from the census of 1860; Washington: Henry S. Graham, 1861.
Map of Virginia: showing the distribution of its slave population from the census of 1860; Washington: Henry S. Graham, 1861.

The antithetical employment of such terms as ‘freedom’ and ‘slavery,’ or ‘antislavery’ and ‘pro-slavery,’ with reference to the principles and purposes of contending parties or rival sections, has had immense influence in misleading the opinions and sentiments of the world. The idea of freedom is captivating, that of slavery repellent, to the moral sense of mankind in general. It is easy, therefore, to understand the effect of applying the one set or terms to one party, the other to another, in a contest which has no just application whatever to the essential merits of freedom or slavery. Jefferson Davis, The Rise and Fall of the Confederate Government.

A Vampire, Bloated and Gorged with Blood

Marker at the Alabama State Capitol on the spot Jefferson Davis was inaugurated, 18 February 1861.
Marker at the Alabama State Capitol on the spot Jefferson Davis was inaugurated, 18 February 1861.

What do you propose, gentlemen of the Free-Soil party? Do you propose to better the condition of the slave? Not at all. What then do you propose? You say you are opposed to the expansion of slavery. […] Is the slave to be benefited by it? Not at all. What then do you propose? It is not humanity that influences you in the position which you now occupy before the country. […] It is that you may have an opportunity of cheating us that you want to limit slave territory within circumscribed bounds. It is that you may have a majority in the Congress of the United States and convert the Government into an engine of Northern aggrandizement. It is that your section may grow in power and prosperity upon treasures unjustly taken from the South, like the vampire bloated and gorged with the blood which it has secretly sucked from its victim. You desire to weaken the political power of the Southern states; and why? Because you want, by an unjust system of legislation, to promote the industry of the New England states, at the expense of the people of the South and their industry. Jefferson Davis, 1856 speech in U.S. Senate.

Jealous Not Even of Virginia

The wild talk prevalent in the official and the semi-official organs at Richmond grates harshly upon the ear of South Carolina.  It is still more grievous to her to hear the same unmanly proposition from those in authority in the old State of Virginia.  Side by side Carolina and Virginia have stood together against all comers for near two centuries — the exemplars and authors of Southern civilization.  Side by side it is our earnest hope they will stand to all time against the world.  But we grieve to say there are counsels now brewing there that South Carolina cannot abet — that she will not suffer to be consummated, so far as she  is concerned in them.

There are men in Virginia, and there are men in South Carolina, who have supposed that there is jealousy existing between these States, in the race of fame and ambition.  These men are small pettifoggers and petty creatures.  There is no State in the Union that has the solid, calm respect for the merits of Virginia, that exists here in South Carolina.  But we are not mouthers, or worshipers.  We have no demonstrations to make.  It is not our habit.  We act.  John C. Calhoun, the idol, the demi-god of South Carolina, could have made his most magnificent effort of genius before a Charleston audience, and the only response, at the climax of one of his grand sylogisms [sic], would have been a slight, a very slight rapping on the floor.  Men who worshiped him, found it not congenial to their natures to demonstrate.  Calm and quiet approval is our habit — our custom — to all.  We are sufficiently confident in our position — sufficiently confident in our own intelligence — in our conduct — in our history, to be jealous of no State — not even of Virginia.  We are prepared to stand upon the basis of our record, with a satisfaction too complete to admit of envy towards any people.  As equals, as dear friends, who have most confidence in each other from long experience and good deeds done, and good feeling, we meet Virginia in counsels of war or of peace.  When Virginia wants a sword to assist in her defence, Carolina’s will ever be the first unsheathed.

But, we are no followers.

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