« AnteriorContinuar »
THE CONSPIRATORS' REPRESENTATIVES IN EUROPE.
- and make commercial arrangements with, the leading governments there. These Commissioners were William L. Yancey, of Alabama; P. A. Rost, of Louisiana; A. Dudley Mann, of Virginia; and T. Butler King, of Georgia. Yancey was to operate in England, Rost in France, and Mann in Holland and Belgium. King seems to have had a sort of roving commission. Yancey had more real ability and force of character than either of the others. He was not a statesman, but a demagogue, and lacked almost every requisite for a diplomatist. He could fill with wild passion an excitable populace at home, but he utterly failed to impress the more sober English mind with a sense of his wisdom or the justice of his cause. Rost was a Frenchman, who emigrated to Louisiana in early life, married a woman of fortune, and finally reached a seat on the bench of the Supreme Court of that State. Mann was a dull statistician of very moderate ability; and King was an extensive farmer and slaveholder. These men so fitly represented their bad cause in Europe, that confidence in the justice or the ultimate success of that cause was speedily so impaired, that they went wandering about, seeking in vain for willing listeners among men of character in diplomatic circles; and, finally, they abandoned their missions in disgust, to the relief of statesmen who were wearied with their importunities and offended by their duplicity.
Mr. Stephens assumed the office of expounder of the principles upon which the new government was founded and was to be established. He
made the occasion of a speech to the citizens of Savannah, a March 21, Georgia, the opportunity for giving that exposition to the world. 1861.
He declared that the immediate cause of the rebellion was African Slavery existing in the United States; and said that Jefferson, in his forecast, had anticipated this as the “rock on which the Union would split." He doubted wbether Jefferson understood the truth on which that rock stood. He, and “most of the leaders at the time of the formation of the old Constitution,” entertained the erroneous idea that “the enslavement of the African was in violation of the laws of nature; that it was wrong in principle, socially, morally, and politically.” They erroneously believed “that in the order of Providence the institution would be evanescent and pass away.” That, he said, was “the prevailing idea of the fathers,” who rested upon the false assumption put forth in the Declaration of Independence, that “all men are created equal." }
“Our new government,” said the Expounder, “is founded upon exactly the opposite idea ; its foundations are laid, its corner-stone rests upon the great truth, that the negro is not equal to the white man ; that Slaverysubordination to the superior race-is his natural and normal condition. This, our new government, is the first, in the history of the world, based upon this great physical and moral truth. This truth has been slow in the process of its development, like all other truths in the various departments of science. It has been so, even among us. Many who hear me, perhaps, can recollect well that this truth was not generally admitted, even within their day. The errors of the past generation still clung to many as late as twenty
1 This was in flat contradiction of the extra-judicial opinion of the late Chief-Justice Taney, who said that the prevailing opinion of the time" was, that the negroes were “ so far inferior that they had no rig!u8 uchick the white man was bound to respect." See his decision in the Dred Scott egen,
FOUNDATION OF THE CONFEDERATE GOVERNMENT.
years ago.' : . . In the conflict, thus far, success has been, on our side, complete throughout the length and breadth of the Confederate States. It is upon this, as I have stated, our actual fabric is firmly planted ; and I cannot permit myself to doubt the ultimate success of a full recognition of this principle throughout the civilized and enlightened world.” After reiterating the assurance that SLAVERY was the special, strong, and commendable foundation of the new "government,” he blasphemously used the substance of the words which the Apostle applied to Christ, saying "This stone, which was rejected by the first builders, 'is become the chief stone of the corner' in our new edifice."
By these frank avowals of one of the chief men in the Confederacy, that SLAVERY was the corner-stone of their government, so called—that it was founded upon the principle that a superior race has a divine right to enslave an inferior race—that its ethics were those of the savage, who insists that “Might makes Right;" and the explicit avowal of the chief leader, that "all who oppose us shall smell Southern powder and feel Southern steel,” mankind were plainly notified that an outlaw against the principles of Christianity, of Civilization, and of the Age was abroad, heavily mailed in political and social prejudices, brandishing a gleaming dagger, poison-tipped, and defying the authority of God and Man. How that outlaw was sheltered, and fed, and caressed, and strengthened, until more than half a million of precious a lives had been sacrificed by his “ steel," we shall observe hereafter.
FOLLY OF THE CONSPIRATORS.
THE MONTGOMERY CONVENTION.–TREASON OF GENERAL TWIGGS.-LINCOLN AND
BUCHANAN AT THE CAPITAL.
HE arrogance and folly of the conspirators, especially of the madmen of South Carolina, often took the most ludicrous forms and expression. They were so intent upon obliterating every trace of connection with the “Yankees," as they derisively called the people of the Free-labor States, and upon showing to the world that South Carolina was an “independent nation," that
so early as the first of January,' when that “nation' was just nine days old-a“ nine days' wonder”-it
was proposed to adopt for it a new system of civil time. Whether it was to be that of Julius Cæsar, in whose calendar the year began in March ; or of the French Jacobins, whose year began in September, and had five sacred days called Sansculottides; or of the Eastern satrap
“Who counted his years from the hour when he smote
His best friend to the earth, and usurped his control;
And his months by the scars of black crimes on his soul,"
is not recorded. Three days after the Montgomery Convention had formed a so-called government, by the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, and the election of Jefferson Davis to be the chief standard-bearer in the revolt, one of the organs of the conspirators said, in view of the dreamed-of power and grandeur of the new Empire :-“ The South might, under the new Confederacy, treat the disorganized and demoralized Northern States as insurgents, and deny them recognition. But if peaceful division ensues, the South, after taking the Federal Capital and archives, and being recognized by all foreign powers as the Government de facto, can, if they see proper, recognize the Northern Confederacy or Confederacies, and enter into treaty stipulations with them. Were this not done, it would be difficult for the Northern States to take a place among nations, and their flag would not be respected or recognized.”
1 Charleston Correspondence of the Associated Press, January 1, 1861.
* Charleston Courier, February 12, 1861. Only a week earlier than this (February 5th), the late Senator Hammond, one of the South Carolina conspirators, in a letter to a kinswoman in Schenectady, New York, after recommending her to read the sermon of a Presbyterian clergyman in Brooklyn, named Van Dyke, preziched on the 9th of December, 1860, for proofs that the buying and selling of men, women, and children was no sin, said: "We dissolve the Union--and it is forever dissolved, be assured-to get clear of Yankee meddlesomeness anel Puritanical bigotry. I say this, being half a Yankee and half a Puritan." His father was a New England
PERMANENT CONSTITUTION ADOPTED.
Notwithstanding this arrogance and childish folly of the politicians notwithstanding the tone of feeling among the leading insurgents at Montgomery was equally proud and defiant, they were compelled to yield to the inexorable laws of necessity, and make a compromise with expediency. It would not do to give mortal offense to Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri, by obstructing the navigation of the Mississippi River ;' so, on the 22d of February, the Convention declared the absolute freedom of the navigation of that stream. Money was necessary to carry on the machinery of government, and equip and feed an army; so, abandoning the delightful dreams of free-trade, which was to bring the luxuries of the world to their doors, they proposed tariff laws; and even went so far as to propose an export duty on the great staple of the Gulf States, relying upon the potential arm of “King Cotton" for support in the measure. “I apprehend,” said Howell Cobb, who proposed it, “ that we are conscious of the power we hold in our hands, by reason of our producing that staple so necessary to the world. I doubt not that power will exert an influence mightier than armies or navies. We know that by an embargo we could soon place not only the United States, but many of the European powers, under the necessity of electing between such a recognition of our independence as we require, or domestic convulsions at home.” Such were the shallow conelnsions of one of the leading “ Southern statesmen," of whose superior wisdom the newspapers in the interest of the Oligarchy were always boasting.
The Convention authorized Davis to accept one hundred thousand volunteers for twelve months, and
The franking privilege was
CONFEDERATE STATES to borrow fifteen millions of
disallowed, excepting for the dollars, at the rate of eight
Post-office Department. The per cent. interest a year.
rates of postage were fixed, Provision was also made for
and stamps for two, five, and the establishment of a small
ten cents were soon issued, naval force for coast defense.
bearing the portrait of Jeffer Laws were passed for carry
son Davis. A variety of ing on postal operations.
laws, necessary for the operations of a legitimate government, were made; and on the 11th of March, a permanent Constitution was adopted. Its preamble fully recognized the doctrine of State Supremacy, and was in the following words :-“We, the people of the Confederate States, each State acting in its sovereign and independent character, in order to form a permanent Federal Government, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, and insure the blessings
school-teacher." We absolve you by this," be continued, "from all the sins of Slavery, and take upon ourselres all its supposed sin and evil, openly before the world, and in the sight of God." With a similar spirit, the revilers of the great Preacher of Righteousness cried : “ Crucify him! Crucify him! Ilis blood be on 168, and on our children !" In the judgments which speedily fell upon the presumptuous Jew and the Slaveholder, do we not see a remarkable "historical parallel ?"
The conspirator continued :-"Let us alone. Let me tell you, my dear consin, that if there is any attempt at war on the part of the North, we can soundly thrash them on any field of battle; and not only that, we can give them over to Jean Jaques, and leave them to manage that. We know our strength. Why, we export over two hundred millions of produce, which the world eagerly seeks and cannot do without. A six months' failure of our exports to Europe would revolutionize every existing government there, as well as at the North. All know it. The North exports some sixty millions, in competition with the European producers. Why the North, without our custom for manufactures, and our produce for its commerce and exchanges, is, neither more nor less, the poorest portion of the civilized world. To that it has come on an infidel and abstract idea"Letter of Jas. H. Hammond to Mrs. F. II. Pratt, published in the Albany Statesman.
1 See page 164.
ASSUMPTION OF SUPREME AUTHORITY.
of liberty to ourselves and to our posterity-invoking the favor and guidance of Almighty God! -do order and ordain this Constitution for the Confederate States of America."
This Constitution was that of the United States, with the alterations and omissions seen in the Provisional Constitution, and others made by the Committee. It prohibited the giving of bounties from the Treasury, or the laying of duties for the purpose of protecting any branch of industry. It made the Post-office Department rely wholly upon its own revenge to pay its expenses ; it attempted to prevent fraudulent legislation by prohibiting the introduction of more than one subject in any act; it fixed the term of service of the President and Vice-President” at six years, and made the former ineligible to re-election; it provided for the government of new Territories, and prohibited the enactment of any law “ denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves.” There were several provisions for securing an economical expenditure of money. The delegates from South Carolina and Florida voted against the clause prohibiting the African Slavetrade. Davis had already been authorized by the Conventiono to assume control
of “all military operations between the Confederate States," or • March 2s,
any of them, and powers foreign to them; and he was also authorized to receive from them the arms and munitions of war "acquired
from the United States." At the middle of March, it recommended the several States to cede to the “Confederate States” the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, and other public establishments within their respective limits. These recommendations were cheerfully responded to by all except the South Carolinians, who were tardy in relinquishing the means for maintaining their “sovereignty.” Already P. G. T. Beauregard, a Louisiana Creole, who had abandoned the flag of his country, and sought employment among its enemies, had been
appointed brigadier-general, and March 3.
ordered from New Orleans to
Charleston, to take charge of all the insurgent forces there. Already John Forsyth, Martin J. Crawford, and A. B. Roman had been appointed Commissioners to proceed to Washington, and make a settlement of all questions at issue between the United States and the conspirators; and Memminger had made preparations for establishing Custom Houses along the frontier “between the two confederacies.” After
1 This expression called forth much debate. Some opposed the introduction of the sentiment in any form. Chilton wished it stronger, by adding, "who is the God of the Bible and the rightful source of all government." As the word “ Bible” would include the New Testament, this suflix was opposed because it might offend Mr, Benjamin, who was a Jew, and did not admit the divinity of Jesus. It was voted down. One of the Cobbs proposed to introduce in the Constitution a clause recognizing the Christian Sabbath, in the following form "No man shall be compelled to do civil duty on Sunday." This was voted down, partly out of deference to Mr. Benjamin, the Jew, and partly because Perkins, of Louisiana, declared that the people of that Suate woull not accept of such a provision. Delegates from Texas made the same declaration concerning the people of their State.
. See page 21.