« AnteriorContinuar »
THE TIMIDITY OF COMMERCE.
and given him visions of a felon's cell, for he immediately added, meekly"Yet I am not prepared to recommend the violence implied in these views."
The seditious suggestions of this Mayor, and the opposing and defiant tone of the Legislature, alarmed the commercial classes and large capitalists, and these hastened to seek some method for pacifying the Southern insurgents. War seemed inevitable. Its besom would sweep thousands of the debtors of New York merchants and manufacturers in the Slave-labor States into the mill of absolute ruin, and millions of dollars" worth of bills receivable in the hands of their creditors must be made as worthless as so much soiled white paper. This material consideration, and an almost universal desire for peace and quiet, developed a quick willingness to make every concession to the demands of the discontented Southerners consistent with honor. As an expression of this feeling, and with the hope of practical results, a memorial for compromise measures, largely signed by merchants, manufacturers, and capitalists, was forwarded to Congress on the 12th of January. The memorialists prayed that body to legislate so as to give assurances "with any required guaranties," to the slaveholders, that their right to regulate Slavery within the borders of their respective States should be secured; that the Fugitive Slave Law should be faithfully executed; .that Personal Liberty Acts in "possible conflict" with that law should be "readjusted;" and that they should have half the Territories, whereof to organize Slave-labor States. They were assured, the memorialists said, that such measures would "restore peace to their agitated country."
This memorial was followed by another, adopted on the 18th of January, at a meeting of merchants in the rooms of the Chamber of Commerce, similar in tone to the other, and substantially recommending the "Crittenden Compromise" as a basis for pacification. They appointed a committee to take charge of the memorial, to procure signatures to it, and forward it to Congress. It was taken to Washington early in February, with forty thousand names attached to it.
On the 28th of January, an immense meeting of citizens was held at the Cooper Institute, in New York, when it was resolved to send three Commissioners to six of the "seceded States," instructed to confer with the delegates of the people," in convention assembled, in regard to "the best measures calculated to restore the peace and integrity of the Union." James T. Brady, Cornelius K. Garrison, and Appleton Oaksmith were appointed such Commissioners. At about the same time, the "Democratic State Central Committee" called for the appointment of four delegates from each
Canada and the Yankee States will coalesce; and Senator Johnson of Tennessee will join them. But when Canada, and western New York, and New England, and the whole beastly, puritanic, 'sour-krout,' free negro, infidel, superstitious, licentious, democratic population of the North become the masters of New York-what then? Outside of the city, the State of New York is Yankee and puritanical; composed of as base, unprincipled, superstitious, licentions, and agrarian and anarchical population as any on earth. Nay, we do not hesitate to say, it is the vilest population on earth. If the city does not secede, and erect a separate republic, this population, aided by the ignorant, base, brutal, sensual German infidels of the northwest, the stupid democracy of Canada (for Canada will, in some way, coalesce with the North), and the arrogant and tyrannical people of New England will become masters of the destinies of New York. They hate her for her sympathies with the South and will so legislate as to divert all her western trade to outlets through Chicago, the St. Lawrence, Portland, and Boston. She will then be cut off from her trade North and South. In fine, she must set up for herself or be ruined."-George Fitzhugh in De Bow's Review for February, 1861.
1 The Board of Aldermen ordered three thousand copies of this message to be "printed in document form "
GERM OF THE PEACE PARTY.
Assembly district in the State, to meet as representatives of the party in convention at Albany on the 31st of January. They assembled on that day, and the delegates were addressed by the venerable ex-Chancellor Walworth, ex-Governor Seymour, and men of less note, and a series of resolutions were adopted, expressive of the sense of the party on the great topic of the day. They declared, substantially, that a conflict of sectional passions had produced present convulsions; that the most ineffective argument to be presented to the "seceding States" was war, which would not restore the Union, but would "defeat forever its reconstruction;" that the restoration of the Union could only be obtained by the exercise of a spirit of conciliation and concession; that there was nothing in the nature of the impending difficulties that made an adjustment by compromise improper; and that the Union could only be preserved by the adoption of a Border-State policy, embodied in the Crittenden Compromise. They appointed a committee to prepare, in behalf of the Convention, "a suitable memorial to the Legislature, urging them to submit the Crittenden Compromise to a vote of the electors of the State, at the earliest practicable day."
At about this time there seemed to be concerted action all over the State to discountenance anti-slavery movements, and to silence those men whose agency, it was alleged, had caused the "public sentiment of the North to have the appearance of a hostility to the South, incompatible with its continuance in the Union." Anti-slavery meetings were broken up by violence; and early in March an association was formed in New York City, called The American Society for the Promotion of National Union, of which Professor Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the perfected electro-magnetic telegraph, was chosen President.' Its professed object was "to promote the union and welfare of our common country, by addresses, publications, and all other suitable means adapted to elucidate and inculcate, in accordance with the Word of God, the duties of American citizens, especially in relation to Slavery.". Reiterating the idea put forth a few weeks before by the Rev. Dr. Smythe; of Charleston, in denunciation of the doctrines of the Declaration of Independence,' this society, in its "Programme," said :--"The popular declaration that all men are created equal, and entitled to liberty, intended to embody the sentiments of our ancestors respecting the doctrine of the Divine right of kings and nobles, and perhaps, also, the more doubtful sentiment of the French school, may be understood to indicate both a sublime truth and a pernicious error." Again:-"Our attention will not be confined to Slavery, but this will be, at present, our main topic. Four millions of immortal beings, incapable of selfcare, and indisposed to industry and foresight, are providentially committed to the hands of our Southern friends. This stupendous trust they cannot put from them if they would. Emancipation, were it possible, would be
The officers of the society were:-President, Samuel F. B. Morse. Executive Committee, John W. Mitchell, Sidney E. Morse, Benjamin Douglass, Lucius Hopkins, J. T. Moore, J. H. Brower, Thomas Tileston, A. G. Jennings, Francis Hopkins, H. J Baker, Edwin Crosswell, William H. Price, Cornelius Du Bois, J. B. Waterbury, J. Holmes Agnew. Ex-officio, S. F. B. Morse, James T. Soutter, Hubbard Winslow, Seth Bliss. Treasurer, James T. Soutter. Secretaries, Hubbard Winslow, Seth Bliss. The New York Journal of Commerce, speaking of the society, expressed its regret that something like it had not been formed thirty years before, in the infancy of the Abolition heresy," and employing a small "army of talented lecturers to follow ip the wake, or precede Abolition lecturers."
*See note 3, page 33.
OPPOSING OPINIONS IN NEW JERSEY.
rebellion against Providence, and destruction to the colored race in our land." These sentences indicate the scope of this society's operations. It was the germ of that powerful "Peace Party" which played a conspicuous part, as we shall observe, during the last three years of the civil war that ensued.
While the Legislature of New York was firmly resolved to support the National Government with arms, if necessary, it was ever willing to try first the power of peaceful measures. It responded to Virginia's proposition for a Peace Congress, by appointing five delegates thereto, who were instructed not to take any part in the proceedings, unless a majority of the Free-labor States were represented. From that time forth, the people of New York watched the course of events with intense interest; and when the National flag was dishonored at Fort Sumter, their patriotism was most conspicuous, as we shall observe hereafter.
NEW JERSEY, intimately connected with New York, was the theater of early movements in relation to secession. So early as the 11th of December, 1860, a convention of "all national men in favor of constitutional Union measures" was held at Trenton, the capital. They adopted a series of resolutions declaring that there was danger of a dissolution of the Union; that the interference of "Northern agitators with the rights and property of fifteen States of the Union" was the cause of "the portentous crisis;" that they saw no remedy excepting in the "avowal of the North, in the most prompt and explicit manner," of its determination to remove all political agitation for the abolition of Slavery; repeal all Personal Liberty Acts; execute the Fugitive Slave Law; allow the slaveholder to have the attendance of his slaves during his temporary sojourn in any of the Freelabor States," on business or pleasure;" accord to the South all the rights of property in man, and accept the decrees of the Supreme Court of the United States, on the Slavery question, as their rule of action. They appointed five commissioners to confer with sister States on the great topic of the time.
The Legislature of New Jersey met at Trenton, the capital, on the 8th of January. The Governor, Charles S. Olden, in his message, expressed a hope that the compromise measures in Congress might be adopted; if not, he recommended a convention of all the States, to agree upon some plan of pacification. On the 15th, a majority of the Committee on National Affairs reported a series of resolutions as the sense of the people of New Jersey, the vital point of which was the indorsement of the Crittenden Compromise. They were adopted on the 31st of January, the Democrats voting in the affirmative. The Republican members adopted a series of resolutions, totally dissenting from the declaration of the majority, that their indorsement of the Crittenden Compromise was "the sentiment of the people of the State." They declared the willingness of the people to aid in the execution of all the laws of Congress; affirmed their adhesion to the doctrine of Popular Sovereignty, with a qualification; asserted the nationality of the Government, in opposition to the doctrine of State Supremacy; declared it to be the duty of the National Government to. maintain its authority everywhere within the limits of the Republic, and pledged the faith and power of New Jersey in aid of that Govern
MEETING IN INDEPENDENCE SQUARE.
209 ment, to any required extent. This pledge the people of that State nobly redeemed.
The great State of PENNSYLVANIA, with its three millions of inhabitants, and its immense and varied interests, was profoundly moved by the events. in the Gulf region. Even before there had been any Secession Conventions, and the muttering thunders of treason in that section were only echoed from the halls of Congress, there was an immense assemblage of citizens in Independence Square, in the city of Philadelphia, to counsel together on the state of public affairs. It was called by the Mayor, Alexander Henry, and was held on the 13th of December, 1860. Disunion-the separation of the States-seemed inevitable, the Mayor said in his proclamation, "unless the loyal people, casting off the spirit of party, should, in a special manner,
avow their unfailing fidelity to the Union, and their abiding faith in the Constitution and laws." The meeting was opened with prayer by the thoroughly loyal Bishop of the Protestant Episcopal Church of that diocese, Right Rev. Alonzo Potter, and was addressed by men of all parties. The tone of every speech was deprecatory of war; and nearly every one expressed a willingness to make every possible concession to the demands of the Oligarchy necessary for the preservation of Union and peace. The troubled aspect of the nation was generally attributed to the interference of the "North" with Slavery, such as "the misplaced teachings of the pulpit, the unwise rhapsodies of the lecture-room, and the exciting appeals of the press," on the subject. It was urged that these "must be frowned
1 In this view, at the end of the avenue of trees is seen the Walnut Street front of the venerable State House, in whose great hall the Declaration of Independence was discussed, adopted, and signed. 2 Speech of Mayor Henry at the opening of the meeting.
LOYAL ACTION OF PENNSYLVANIA.
down by a just and law-abiding people." There were some who demurred, and counseled a manly and energetic assertion of the sovereign authority of the National Government; but the prevailing sentiment was highly conservative, and even submissive. The resolutions adopted by the meeting proposed the repeal of the Personal Liberty Act of Pennsylvania, and the recognition of the obligations of the people to assist in the full execution of the Fugitive Slave Law; pointed, with "pride and satisfaction, to the recent conviction and punishment, in Philadelphia," of those who had attempted to rescue an alleged fugitive from bondage; recommended the passage of a law providing for the payment of full remuneration to the owner of a slave who might lose him by such rescue; declared that they recognized slaves as property, in accordance with the decision of the Supreme Court of the United States; and also, "that all denunciations of Slavery, as existing in the United States, and of our fellow-citizens who maintain that institution, and who hold slaves under it, are inconsistent with the spirit of brotherhood and kindness which ought to animate all who live under and profess to support the Constitution of the American Union."
The newly elected Governor of Pennsylvania, Andrew G. Curtin, was inaugurated on the 15th of January, 1861, and his address on that occasion. resounded with the ring of the true metal of loyalty and positiveness of character, which he displayed throughout the war that ensued. He counseled forbearance, and kindness, and a conciliatory spirit; proposed the
repeal of the Personal Liberty Act of that State, if it was in contravention of any law of Congress; and denounced the wicked doings of the conspirators and their servants. Two days afterward, the Legislature, by resolutions, approved of the conduct of Major Anderson in Charleston harbor, and of Governor Hicks, in Maryland. In another series of resolutions, passed on the 24th, it severely rebuked the conduct of the South Carolinians; declared that the Constitution gave the Government full power to maintain its authority, and pledged the "faith and power of Pennsylvania" to the support of all such measures as might be required to put down insurrection; saying :-" All plots, conspiracies, and warlike preparations against the United States, in any section of the country, are treasonable in their character," and that all the powers of Government should be used, if necessary, to suppress them, "without hesitation or delay." How fully these pledges of Pennsyl
ANDREW G. CURTIN.
1 Speech of Mayor Henry. Such was the alleged irritated state of public feeling in Philadelphia at that time (strenuously denied by many), that only three days before this meeting, the Mayor, in a note to the Chairman of a committee of the People's Literary Institute" of that city, deprecated, as "extremely unwise," the appearance before them, as a lecturer on "The Policy of Honesty," of George William Curtis, known to be an earnest lover of his country, and as earnest a foe to the Slave system. "If I possessed the lawful power," said the Mayor, "I would not permit his presence on that occasion." The proprietor of the hall in which Curtis.was to lecture was officially informed that a riot might be expected if that gentleman should appear, and he refused its use.