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ix.]

Helper and John Brown.

253

he had been one of those who had vouched for the genuineness of the pamphlet. “No man,” said they, who had endorsed the book, "was fit to be Speaker of the House of Representatives.

John Brown came of good New England stock, and was imbued with the old Puritan idea that God was on the side of the successful soldier. He had

John Brown. conducted himself in Kansas in a manner which met with the strong disapprobation of many persons interested in the struggle against the extension of slavery. He suddenly appeared with a handful of men at Harper's Ferry, Virginia, at the confluence of the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers. There was an United States Arsenal at that point, and Brown designed to seize the buildings and arms stored therein, and to use them for the purpose of arming the slaves. He seized the arsenal in the dead of night, and, at the head of nineteen men, defied the United States and the State of Virginia. Brown was captured with all but two of his followers. On December 2nd, 1859, he was executed at Charlestown, Virginia, on a charge of murder and treason. “So perish all such enemies of Virginia,” exclaimed Colonel Preston, as the body dropped through the trap of the scaffold, “So perish all such enemies of the Union! All such enemies of the human race!" The poet Longfellow, in his quiet study at Cambridge, Massachusetts, viewed the matter in a somewhat different light, and jotted down in his journal: “Even now, as I write, they are leading old John Brown to execution in Virginia, for attempting to rescue slaves! This is sowing the wind to reap the whirlwind, which will come soon.' It is also interesting to observe the divergent opinions held by two men who bore prominent parts in the war for the Union, Lincoln and the Massachusetts “war governor,” John A. Andrew. The former stigmatized Brown's raid as "absurd” ; the latter stated the opinion – which was soon to be held by

the Demo

many men

that no matter how foolish the undertaking may have been, “John Brown himself is right.” The man was raised to the level of a martyr, and singing his name, men marched into battle for the Union. Indeed, one cannot help speculating as to the sensations experienced by an onlooker of the execution, when, some three years later, a Massachusetts regiment, recruited by the son of Daniel Webster, and hence known as the “Webster Regiment,” halted where the gallows once had stood, and poured forth that wonderful battle song, original with this regiment:

“ John Brown's body lies a-mouldering in the grave,

But his soul goes marching on.”
The Democratic National Convention met at Charleston,

South Carolina, in April, 1860, to nominate a Disruption of

successor to James Buchanan, then President of cratic party.

the United States. The Slave-power demanded that the principles embodied in the Dred Scott decision should be adopted as the principles of the Democratic party — that the national government should "protect slavery." The Southerners felt the moral reproach under which they were living, and asserted that the blame for this was on the shoulders of the Northerners. "In the progress of civilization," said Yancey, a delegate from Mississippi,“ the North-west has grown ... into the free proportions of a giant people. We (the South] therefore, as the minority, take the rights ... of the minority.” “The proposition you make will bankrupt us at the South. Ours is the property invaded.” “The honour of our children, the honour of our females, the lives of our men, all rest on you. You acknowledged that slavery was wrong, but that you were not to blame. That was your position, and it was wrong. ... that your admission that slavery is wrong has been the cause of all this discord.” The Northern Democrats, therefore, must assert that slavery is right. "Gentlemen of the South," replied a delegate, Senator Pugh of Ohio, “we will not do it.” The

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Democratic party split in twain. The Southern extremists left the Convention, which was adjourned, to meet at Baltimore in June. But no agreement could be reached. The Northern Democrats nominated Douglas for President, and the Southern Democrats nominated Breckinridge, of Kentucky - at the moment occupying the position of Vice-President. The ultraconservatives of all parties held a convention of their own, and nominated Governor Bell, of Tennessee, as the Constitutional Union Candidate. The Republican party, which was composed of various discordant elements, and which had made its first presidential contest in 1856, nominated Abraham Lincoln for the office of President. Seward was a more prominent man in the party; but he had been long in political life, and had made many enemies. Lincoln was therefore a safer candidate, and was nominated for that reason and because of his presumed ability to carry several Western States.

The issues upon which the campaign was fought must be adverted to again. The last demand of the Slavepower was stated by Mr Gaulden of Georgia, in

Slave-holders, the following speech, which was received with 1859. approval by the Southern members of the Charleston Convention. Mr Gaulden stated his belief “that slavery is right, morally, religiously, socially, and politically. I believe that slavery has done more for this country, more for civilization, than all other interests put together. I would ask our Northern friends to give us all our rights, and take off the ruthless restrictions which cut off the supply of slaves from foreign lands." The position of the slave-owners in 1860 might be stated in a concise form as follows: Slavery is right, and we are unjustly accused of doing wrong; our slave property is expressly guaranteed by the Constitution the Northern people must use its power to protect this property; as slavery is right and entitled to protection, it should be encouraged by the re-establishment of the slave-trade. The most interesting part of the Southern

The De. mands of the

case is the contention that it was the Northerners who had cast the reproach on the slave-owner. Lincoln and the Republican leaders asserted, and with the utmost sincerity, that they had no intention of interfering with the institution of slavery where it existed. The Republicans were entirely distinct from those Abolitionists, like Phillips and Garrison, who refused to exercise their constitutional right to vote. Indeed the Abolitionists properly so called, namely, those who, if they had the power, would abolish slavery, had made small progress in the last twenty years. The Republicans, however, were opposed to the further extension of slavery. On this question they stood firmly and squarely on the ground occupied by the fathers of the Constitution, and justly named themselves Republican. They maintained, as the men of 1787 had maintained, that slavery should be regarded as a State matter — that the voters of each State could decide at any time, and change their minds as often as they chose, whether their State should be a slave-labour State, or a free-labour State. They denied, however, that the national government should be used as a machine to extend slavery. The dissensions in the Democratic party resulted in the election of Lincoln, the Republican leader. South Carolina, alone of all the States, adhered to the time

dishonoured practice of choosing presidential Secession,

electors by vote of the legislature. Having

performed that duty in November, 1860, the legislature remained in session until the result of the election should be assured. When it was known that Lincoln had been elected, it provided for the calling of a State Convention, to be held on the 17th of December (1860), next following. On the 20th of that month, the people of South Carolina, in Convention assembled, repealed the ordinance of the Convention of 1788 ratifying the Constitution of the United States, and declared the Union between South Carolina and the other States dissolved. The Convention also:

1860-61.

ix.]

Secession, 1860-61.

257

issued a Declaration of Causes setting forth the reasons which had made this secession necessary. Before March, 1861, six other States: Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, and Texas seceded. The people of these States seized the national property within the State limits, and only three military posts in the seceded States remained in the hands of the national authority when Lincoln took the oath of office on March 4th, 1861. C. A.

17

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