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SPREADING OF THE SECESSION MANIA.
SECESSION CONVENTIONS IN SIX STATES.
URING the first thirty days of the year 1861, the disloyal politicians in six States of the Union, following the example of those of South Carolina, passed ordinances of secession and appointed delegates to a General Convention for the purpose of forming a Southern Confederacy. These ordinances were passed in the following chronological order :-In Mississippi, on the 9th of January; in Florida, on the 10th; in Alabama, on the 11th; in Georgia, on the 19th; in Louisiana, on the 26th; and in Texas, on the 1st of February. At the same time, large numbers of "Minute-men” in Virginia, under the control of ex-Governor Henry A. Wise, and others in Maryland, under leaders unknown to the public, were organized and drilled for the special purpose of seizing the City of Washington, and the Government buildings and archives there.
At the same time the conspirators, in several places, acting upon the counsel of those of South Carolina, began to plunder the National Government, by seizing its property in the name of certain States in which such property happened to be. Even in the loyal State of North Carolina, where there was no pretense of secession until four months later," the Governor, John W. Ellis, seized the forts within its borders," and the Arsenal at Fayetteville (into which Floyd had lately thrown seventeen thousand small arms, with accouterments and ammunition), under the pretext of securing them from occupation by mobs. He then wrote a letter to the President, telling him that if he (the Governor) could receive assurances that no troops would be sent to that State prior to the 4th of March (the day fixed upon by many as the one on which the first blow at the life of the Republic should be struck), then all would be "peace and quiet" there. "If, however," he said, "I am unable to get such assurances, I will not undertake to answer for the consequences. The forts in this State have long been unoccupied, and these being garrisoned at this time will unquestionably be looked upon as a hostile demonstration, and will, in my opinion, certainly be resisted." The State troops were soon afterward withdrawn from the forts and the Arsenal.
The politicians of Mississippi were the first to follow the example of those of South Carolina. We have already observed initial movements there, by the Legislature authorizing a State Convention, and the appointment of Commissioners to visit other Slave-labor States. Immediately
1 Letter of Governor Ellis to the President, January 12, 1861.
* See page 53.
MISSISSIPPI ORATORS.-A SPEECH.
afterward the whole State was excited by preparations for the election of delegates to the Convention, ninety-nine in number. The 20th day of December was the time appointed for the election, and the 7th @1861. of January was the day selected for the Convention to assemble. Public meetings were held in all parts of the State, at which the most distinguished men in the Commonwealth were speakers.'
There was a diversity of sentiment among the politicians in Mississippi, mainly on the question whether there should be immediate, separate, and independent State action, or whether they should wait for the co-operation of other States. Two parties were formed, one called the "Secessionists" proper, the other "Co-operationists." Each was zealous in a bad cause, for all had determined on secession in some form. "These are but household quarrels," said one of the "Co-operationists;" "as against Northern combination and aggression, we are united. We are all for resistance. We differ as to the mode; but the fell spirit of Abolitionism has no deadlier, and, we believe, no more practical foes than the 'Co-operationists' of the South. We are willing to give the North a chance to say whether it will accept or
1 There were also speakers who were not distinguished beyond their own immediate neighborhoods. These were more numerous and influential than the others. Their persons, manner, and language commended them to the great mass of the people who attended these gatherings. Their harangues were forcible and inflammatory. One of these is here given as a specimen of a fair average of the speeches made to the people all over the Slave-labor States at this time, at their primary gatherings. It is quoted from The Iron Furnace; or, Slavery and Secession: by the Rev. John H. Aughey, a Presbyterian clergyman of Mississippi:
LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:-I am a secessionist out and out; voted for Jeff. Davis for Governor in 1850, when the same issue was before the people." After announcing, in vile language, the election of Mr. Lincoln, he said:"Shall he be permitted to take his seat on Southern soil? No, never! I will volunteer as one of thirty thousand to butcher the villain if he ever sets foot on slave territory. Secession or submission! What patriot would hesitate for a moment which to choose? No true son of Mississippi would brook the idea of submission to the rule of the baboon, Abe Lincoln-a fifth-rate lawyer, a broken down hack of a politician, a fanatic, an abolitionist. I, for one, would prefer an hour of virtuous liberty to a whole eternity of bondage under Northern, Yankee, wooden nutmeg rule. The halter is the only argument that should be used against the submissionists [that is to say, loyal men in the State], and I predict that it will soon, very soon, be in force.
"We have glorious news from Tallahatchie. Seven Tory submission ists [Union men] were hanged there in one day, and the so-called Union candidates, having the wholesome dread of hemp before their eyes, are not canvassing the county; therefore the heretical dogma of submission, under any circumstances, disgraces not their county. Compromise! Let us have no such word in our vocabulary. . . . No concession of the scared Yankees will now prevent secession.
"We are now threatened with internecine war. The Yankees are an inferior race: they are cowardly in the extreme. They are descended from the Puritan stock, who never bore rule in any nation. We, the descendants of the Cavaliers, are the Patricians; they the Plebeians. The Cavaliers have always been the rulers, the Puritans the ruled." Then mounting the Delphic stool on which the elder Rhett (see page 96) had prophesied, this disciple attempted to imitate his master. "The dastardly Yankees," he said, "will never fight us; but if they, in their presumption and audacity, venture to attack us, let the war come-I repeat it, let it come! The conflagration of their burning cities, the desolation of their country, and the slaughter of their inhabitants, will strike the nations of the earth dumb with astonishment, and serve as a warning to future ages, that the Slaveholding Cavaliers of the sunny South are terrible in their vengeance. . . . We will drive back to their inhospitable clime every Yankee who dares to pollute our shores with his cloven foot. Go he must, and, if necessary, with the blood-hounds on his track. The scum of Europe and the mudsills of Yankeedom shall never be permitted to advance a step south of 36o 30', the old Missouri Compromise line. South of that latitude is ours--westward to the Pacific. With my heart of hearts I hate a Yankee; and I will make my children swear eternal hatred to the whole Yankee race.
"In battle, one Southron is equivalent to ten Northern hirelings; but I regard it a waste of time to speak of Yankees they deserve not our attention. . . . We have a genial clime, and a soil of uncommon fertility. We have free institutions-freedom for the white man, bondage for the black man, as Nature and Nature's God designed. We have fair women and brave men. The lines have truly fallen to us in pleasant places. We have indeed a goodly heritage. The only evil we complain of is our bondage to the Yankees, through the Federal Union. Let us burst these shackles from our limbs, and we will be free indeed."
Four years later, the State of Mississippi was marked in every direction by the dark lines of War's desolating paths, and in almost every district were heard the anathemas of a deceived, betrayed, and suffering people, against those Oligarchs whose folly and wickedness had laid the Commonwealth and its thousands of happy homes in ruins.
MISSISSIPPI SECESSION ORDINANCE
reject the terms that a united South will agree upon. If accepted, well and good; if rejected, a united South can win all its rights, in or out of the Union." The Co-operationists, swayed by reason rather than by passion, counseled waiting for an overt act of wrong on the part of the incoming Administration, before raising the resisting arm. This counsel the Hotspurs denounced as cowardly in thought and disastrous in practice; and one of their poets, with bitter irony, put submissive words into their mouths, calculated to stir up the passions of the people. He said:—
“We are waiting till Abe Lincoln grasps the purse and grasps the sword,
Waiting till our friends are murdered, and our towns and cities sacked
The Convention met on the 7th of January, at Jackson, the State capital, a town of about two thousand five hundred inhabitants. It was found that only about one-third of the members were "Co-operationists." This gave the "Secessionists" entire confidence, and made them exceedingly arrogant in speech and manner. Efforts were made by the "Co-operationists" to postpone action, but these were put down by decided majority votes. This unanimity made the progress of business easy.
Delegates from South Carolina and Alabama, who were present, were invited to seats in the Convention, and were received with great applause. A committee appointed to draft an Ordinance of Secession, having their work all prepared for them by the leaders, were not long at their labor. An ordinance was reported on the 8th, and many of the "Co-operationists were so intimidated by threats, that on the final vote on the measure only fifteen had the courage to say No. It was adopted on the 9th, by a vote of eighty-four ayes and fifteen noes, and was afterward declared unanimous. It was brief, and arranged in four sections. The first was a simple declaration, in set terms, that all connection with the old Union was forever broken, and that Mississippi was a "free, sovereign, and independent State." The second decreed that the clause in the State Constitution, which required all officers to take an oath to support the National Constitution, was thereby "abrogated and annulled." The third declared that all rights acquired and vested under the National Constitution, or any act of Congress, and not incompatible with the Ordinance, should remain in full force and effect. The fourth, speaking for the people of the State, said, that they would "consent to form a Federal Union with such of the States as have seceded or may secede from the Union of the United States of America," upon the basis of the National Constitution, with a qualification.
The next step was to assert the sovereignty of Mississippi by acts. That sovereignty was formally acknowledged by Judge Samuel J. Gholson, of the United States District Court, who resigned his office because his State, in the exercise of sovereignty, had cut the bond that held it to the old Union. South Carolina was formally acknowledged as a Sovereign State by the younger but not less ardent sister, who, like herself, had a popula
BLOCKADE OF THE MISSISSIPPI RIVER
tion of slaves greater in number than her population of freemen-a distinction then not vouchsafed to any other States in the Union.'
Steps were taken, through committees, to sever effectually every con nection with the National Government, excepting the convenient one of the postal system. They also assumed the right to dictate the terms upon which the Mississippi River should be navigated, in the portion that washed the borders of their commonwealth. By order of Governor January 12, Pettus," the "Quitman Battery," as a company of frantic
artillerists called themselves, hastened from Jackson to Vicksburg, and planted cannon on the bluff there, with orders to hail and examine every vessel that should attempt to pass. On Tuesday, the 18th, the river steamer A. O. Tyler was brought to by a shot athwart her bows, and others were soon served in the same way. This battery was a representative of sovereignty, which the arrogant Oligarchs in power in Mississippi set up, in the very wantonness of pride, to command the obeisance of others. The act was sanctioned by the confederated conspirators assembled at Montgomery a month later, who followed up this attempt to blockade the great aqueous highway, by establishing a customhouse at Neine's Landing, near the boundary between Mississippi and Tennessee, and the erection of other batteries, whose guns for more than two years obstructed the river-trade. That first steamer (A. O. Tyler) arrested at Vicksburg, was afterward converted into a national gunboat, and did good service in putting down the rebellion. The blockade at Vicksburg created intense exasperation among the navigators of the river, and threats of vengeance came down from Cincinnati and St. Louis.
Measures were taken by the Convention, and by the Legislature, which had reassembled, in order to give force to the Ordinance of Secession, to increase the military power of the State. The Governor, on hearing that the Chief Magistrate of Louisiana had seized the National Arsenal at Baton Rouge, with its fifty thousand small arms, heavy cannon, and munitions of war, sent Colonel C. G. Armistead, to ask him to share his plunder with his brother of Mississippi, "on such terms as he might deem just." Pettus asked for ten thousand stand of arms. He got eight thousand muskets, one thousand rifles, six 24-pound cannon and equipage, and a considerable amount of ammunition. . Private munificence was exhibited to some degree. "Patriotic citizens," said the Governor, "in various portions of the State, have extended to me pecuniary aid in arming the State. Hon. A. G. Brown sent me a bill on New York for five hundred dollars. Colonel Jeff. Davis and Hon. Jacob Thompson have guaranteed the payment, in May or June, of twenty-five thousand dollars, for the purchase of arms.""
1 The population of South Carolina, în 1869, was 703,812, of whom 402,541 were slaves, or 101,270 more slaves than free persons. The population of Mississippi, at the same time, was 791,396, of whom 436,696 were slaves, or 82,000 more slaves than free persons.
2 "Cincinnati steam boat men have been thrown into a fever, from the Governor of Mississippi ordering cannon and a military company to Vicksburg, to hail all steamboats passing. The Abolition journals of Cincin nati howl over it, and are greatly incensed. We would like to see them help themselves."-Memphis Evening Argus, January 17, 1861.
3 Message of Governor Pettus to the Legislature of Mississippi, January 15, 1861. Brown and Davis were members of the Senate of the United States, and left their seats because of the alleged secession of their State. Thompson had been a member of Buchanan's Cabinet until the day before the Mississippi Ordinance of Secession was passed.
FLORIDA SECESSION ORDINANCE.
The Legislature of Mississippi levied an additional tax of fifty per cent. upon the amount of the existing State tax, and authorized the Governor to borrow two millions of dollars at ten per cent. interest, payable in one, two, and three years, out of the resources of the State, raised chiefly by taxation. These measures alarmed the capitalists and large property-holders, who desired no change; but many of them had already been threatened with personal violence and confiscation of their estates, and all were compelled to acquiesce in any measures which the leaders of secession saw fit to employ. Already a system of terrorism, sharp and implacable, had begun to make the expressed voice of the people of Mississippi a " unit in favor of secession." By these means the conspirators silenced all opposition. The hopes of the late General Quitman (a former Governor of the State), a native of the State of New York, one of the most persistent and dangerous enemies of American nationality, and on whom fell the mantle of Calhoun, as the chief leader of secessionists, were soon realized. The State was placed in an attitude of open revolt in the maintenance of the doctrine of State Supremacy.
When the Mississippi Convention had finished the business for which it had assembled, it adjourned until the 25th of March, for an object which will be hereafter considered.
Florida, purchased of Spain less than half a century ago," and the most unimportant State in the Union in population' and developed resources, was early made the theater of seditious speech and treasonable action. Its politicians at home, and its representatives in Congress, were more haughty and pretentious, if possible, than those of South Carolina, in the assumption of supreme sovereignty for their dependent commonwealth, as we have already observed. They were anxious to establish an independent empire on the borders of the Gulf; and early in January, 1861, they met in Convention to take the first step in the necessary revolution, by declaring Florida no longer a member of the Union. The Convention assembled at Tallahassee, the capital of the State, a city of less than two thousand inhabitants, on the 3d, when Colonel Petit was chosen temporary Chairman, and Bishop Rutledge invoked the blessing of God upon the wicked acts it was about to perform. The number of its members was sixty-nine; and it was found that not more than onethird of them were "Co-operationists." The Legislature, fully prepared to work in harmony with the Convention, assembled at the same place on the 5th.
On the 10th of January an Ordinance of Secession was adopted by the Florida Convention, by a vote of sixty-two ayes to seven noes. Its preamble set forth, that "all hopes of preserving the Union upon terms consistent with the safety and honor of the Slaveholding States" had been "fully dissipated;" and it was declared that the State, acting in its "sovereign capacity," was, by this ordinance, withdrawn from the Union, and Florida had become "a sovereign and independent nation." On the following day the ordinance was signed, amidst the firing of cannon and the
The population of the State, in 1860, was one hundred and forty thousand nine hundred and thirty-nine, of whom only a little more than half were white. 2 See page 60.