« AnteriorContinuar »
REBELLION IN SOUTH CAROLINA APPLAUDED.
military operations, and transacting some other business, chiefly in secret session, the Convention adjourned, on the 5th of January, 1861, subject to the call of the President. They had ordered the table, President's chair, inkstand, and other things used at the ceremony of signing the Ordinance of Secession, to be placed in the State House at Columbia, for preservation.
The Legislature of South Carolina, which had been in session during the sitting of the Convention, but almost idle, now took measures for putting the State in a strongly defensive attitude. A loan of four hundred thousand dollars was authorized, which was immediately taken by the banks of the State, they having been permitted, by legislative decree, to suspend specie payments. A call for volunteers was made, and also provisions for a draft, if it should be necessary. Little else was done during the session but preparations for making the revolutionary movement a success.
Thus the South Carolina politicians rebelled, and prepared to resist the authority of their Government by force of arms. When intelligence of the passage of their Ordinance of Secession went over the country, it produced, as we have observed, a profound sensation. That action was greeted with delight by disunionists in most of the Slave-labor States. A hundred guns were fired both at Montgomery and Mobile, by order of the Governor (Moore) of Alabama, in honor of the event. In the latter city there was also a military parade. Bells were rung and oratory was heard. At Macon, Georgia, bells rang, bonfires blazed, cannon thundered, processions moved, and the main street of the city was illuminated. A hundred guns were fired at Pensacola. The same number were discharged in New Orleans, where the Pelican flag was unfurled, speeches were made to the populace, and no other airs were played in the streets but polkas and the Marseillaise Hymn. At Wilmington, in North Carolina, one hundred guns were fired. In Portsmouth, Virginia, fifteen were fired, being the then number of the Slave-labor States; and at Norfolk, the Palmetto flag was outspread from the top of a pole a hundred feet in hight. A banner with the same device was displayed over the custom-house at Richmond. An attempt was made to fire fifteen guns in Baltimore, when the loyal people there prevented it. On the 22d, a jubilant meeting at Memphis, Tennessee, "ratified" the ordinance. Fifteen guns were fired, and the office of the Avalanche, then an organ of the conspirators in that region, was illuminated. At the same time, the politicians of several of the Slave-labor States, as we shall observe presently, were rapidly placing the people in the position of active co-operation with those of South Carolina. Those who did not choose to follow the lead of South Carolina were treated with amazing insolence by the usurpers in that State, and were scorned as unworthy of association with the Palmetto Chivalry.
The news was received with far different feelings in the Free-labor States,
Alabama, A. P. Calhoun; to Georgia, James L. Orr; to Florida, L. W. Spratt; to Mississippi, M. L. Bonham; to Louisiana, J. L. Manning; to Arkansas, A. C. Spain; to Texas, J. B. Kershaw; to Virginia, John S. Preston.
1 According to the returns made to the Controller-general of South Carolina, for the month of December, 1860, the number of banks in that State was only twenty, with an aggregate capital of about fifteen millions of dollars, and a circulation of about seven millions of dollars. They had only one million three hundred and fiftyfive thousand dollars in specie.
* On the great seal of Louisiana is the device of a Pelican, hovering over a nest of young ones in the attitude of protectron, at the same time feeding them. The same device was on the Louisiana flag. It was designed to symbolize the parental care of the National Government, and it appeared out of place in the hands of men banded to destroy that government.
FEELING IN THE FREE-LABOR STATES.
where reason and not passion ruled the people. The leaders of the Breckinridge Democrats,' who were more intimately affiliated, as partisans, with the politicians in the Slave-labor States than others, were eager to suppress all discussion of the Slavery question at the North, and were willing to give Slavery free scope by the repeal of all Personal Liberty Laws, the rigid execution of the Fugitive Slave Act, and an amendment of the Constitution, so as to secure the right of property in slaves everywhere. The Douglas Democrats' adhered to the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, but were willing to make liberal concessions to the Slave interest by the repeal of Personal Liberty laws and the rigid execution of the Fugitive Slave Act. The Republicans3 adhered to their opposition to Slavery, yet favored conciliatory measures, as shadowed by one of their chief leaders; while a few corrupt politicians, whose love of party and its honors and emoluments was far greater than love of country, openly defended the course of the traitors, and advocated secession as not only a constitutional right, but as expedient. But while there was a general desire to conciliate the madmen of the South, the great mass of the people in the Free-labor States, comprising the bulk of all parties, were firmly attached to the Union, and resolutely determined to maintain the National integrity at all hazards. Union meetings were held, and Union sentiments were expressed with a vehemence and power which alarmed the more discreet leaders in the South.
The men of the North had watched the rising rebellion, first with incredulity and then with amazement; but when it assumed tangible form and substance-when it became a reality, aggressive and implacable—they prepared to meet it with calmness and firmness. They deprecated all inflam• December 3. matory proceedings like the commemoration, in Boston, of the execution of John Brown, and were anxious to be exactly just toward their brethren in the Slave-labor States: yet they were ready and willing to oppose force to force, morally and physically, when the insurgents should attack the bulwarks of the Republic.
The conservative influence of commerce and manufactures was a powerful restraint upon the passions of the indignant people of the North, when they perceived the utter faithlessness of the Southern leaders, not only in their political, but in their business relations. The South was an immense debtor to the North for merchandise purchased on long credits, and it was very soon apparent, from the recommendations of the leaders in the Slavelabor States, that a scheme was on foot for the repudiation of all debts due to merchants and manufacturers in the Free-labor States. So early as the day of the Presidential election, it was evident to sagacious men that a
1 See page 33.
2 See page 33.
3 See page 33.
4 In a speech at Auburn, New York (his home), on the 20th of November, 1860, Mr. Seward counseled moderation and conciliation. He begged them to be patient and kind toward their erring brethren. "We are all fellow-citizens, Americans, brethren," he said. “It is a trial of issues by the forces only of reason.”
5 Quite a number of citizens of Boston, and some from other places, assembled in Tremont Temple, in that city, on the 8 of December, 1860, to celebrate the anniversary of the execution of John Brown, in Virginia, the year before. A larger number of inhabitants, led by a man named Fay, also assembled there, took possession of the Temple, organized a meeting, denounced the acts of John Brown as "bloody and tyrannical," and his sympathizers as disturbers of the public peace; and then, according to a published account, expelled from the hall "the Abolitionists and negroes by sheer force."
More than two hundred millions of dollars were due to the Northern merchants and manufacturers by Southerners.
FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE COUNTRY.
monetary crisis was impending, and then commenced business restrictions and the withdrawal of capital from investment. Manufacturers and importers became anxious to get rid of their stocks on hand, and the markets, in commercial centers, were soon crowded.
By the middle of November, remittances from the South had almost entirely ceased, partly on account of the dishonesty of a large class who had resolved not to pay, partly because of the absolute inability of others to do so, and partly because of thẻ high rates of exchange on the Northern commercial cities and the depreciation of Southern bank-notes, the Legislatures of several States having authorized the banks to suspend specie payments. The consequence was the subjection of large business houses, and, indeed, whole communities in the North, to great financial straits. Added to this was the sad condition of the National exchequer, and consequent distrust of Government paper. Howell Cobb, the treacherous Secretary of the Treasury, who found the coffers of the Government so overflowing when they came into his custody, in 1857, that the treasury notes next due were bought in, had so adroitly managed his scheme for the paralysis of this strong arm of the Republic, for the benefit of the conspirators, that it was empty in the summer of 1860; and in the autumn of that year he was in the market as a borrower of money to carry on the ordinary operations of the Government and to pay the interest on its loans. His management had created such distrust in financial circles, that he was compelled to pay ruinous premiums at a time when money was never more abundant in the country. Even bids on this loan were not all paid in; and early in December he left the treasury greatly embarrassed, to the delight of his fellow-conspirators.
The cereal crop of the West had filled the granaries to repletion, and operators were pushing heavy quantities to the sea-board cities for exportation; while the cotton-growers, anticipating great trouble ahead, were in equal haste to press the heavy crop of their staple on the market.' But capital had hidden in fear of danger, and could not be found to assist in the movement of these materials of national wealth. Doubt and uncertainty everywhere prevailed, and a desolating panic seemed inevitable.
Fortunately for the Republic and the cause of free government, the country was never really so rich as at that moment. Never were the people generally in such easy circumstances. The banks in the North were in a very healthy condition. The exports had greatly exceeded the imports. The exportation of cotton and grain had been very large, and the tide of trade and exchange was running so heavily in our favor toward the close of November, that coin soon came flowing into the country from Europe in immense volume. The pressure on the market, in the mean time, of unsalable foreign exchange, was so great, and the wants of commission merchants had become so pressing, that the banks of New York City, to give relief, purchased two millions five hundred thousand do!lars of foreign exchange, upon which gold might be realized in thirty days. They also resolved upon a liberal line of discounts, by a consolidated fund arrangement with the Clearing-house, and thus they set
1 See Trescot's letter in note 2. page 44.