This is the creed, self-expounded by its advocates, professed by the Southern slave-holder. Concede its truth, and South Carolina's declaration of independence a is a document stamped with forecast and entitled to commendation. Whoever drafted it ran out his premises to their logical results. The convention that adopted it saw their way before them, and did not, like their weak sympathizers in the North, expect incompatibilities.
Having set up their "great philosophical truth," the corner stone of their political system, they saw clearly that they must insure it respect; that they must protect it from attack or condemnation; and they perceived that this could not be done if they maintained fellow-ships with the North. "The non- slaveholding States," they declare, "have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery." This from citizens of the same Republic they cannot permit; nor, except by citizens of the same Republic they cannot permit; nor, except by secession from the non-slaveholding States, can they prevent it. "All hope of remedy" - thus their declaration concludes- "all hope of remedy is rendered vain by the fact that public opinion at the North has invested a great political error with the the sanctions of a more erroneous religious belief."
Wise in their generation are South Carolina and the States that followed her lead. Building their system of government upon a "great philosophical and moral truth," which (unfortunately, they will say) the rest of the civilized world still regards as a flagrant moral falsehood, they can maintain the stability of their political edifice only be debarring all questions, all discussions, that might assault and endanger its foundations. As in despotic monarchies it was found necessary to declare it to be treason, punishable as a capital offense, to question the right divine of kings, so in a slave empire they see it to be indispensable to forbid, on pain of death, all opinions touching the sinfulness, or inconsistency with religion, of slavery. Twenty-five years ago they declared from their places in Congress that in spite of the Federal Government, every abolitionist they caught should die a felon's death. b It was no idle, menace, as hundreds of murders for opinion's sake, committed in the South before the war, terribly attest.
Let us not blame the men, except it be for seeking to uphold the monstrous system handed down to them by their forefathers. They must resist the Federal authority to maintain that system. They must violate the constitutional provision which forbids to abridge "the liberty of speech or of the press; 'self-defense and its necessities compel them. They found this necessary before the war in order to save slavery from destruction; the necessity will be increased beyond measure if slavery remain after its close. Now that the President's proclamation of emancipation has stirred up, in every Southern plantation, the latent longing for freedom, the dangers to their slave system from propagandist will be increased a hundredfold.
It follows that in this Republic, if reconstructed half slave, half free, no man known to be opposed in principle to slavery will be able to cross Mason and Dixon's line without imminent risk of life. South
a Declaration of Causes which Induced the Secession of South Carolina, adopted December 21, 1860. (See Putnam's Rebellion Record, Vol. I, documents, pp. 3,4.)
b Let an abolitionist come within the borders of South Carolina, if we can catch him we will try him, and notwithstanding all the interference of all the governments on earth, including the Federal Government, we will hang him. (Senator Preston in debate in U. S. Senate, January, 1838.)
If chance throw an abolitionist in our way, he may expect a felon's death. (Senator Hammond, of South Carolina, in U. S. Senate, 1836.)