The Real Issue- Union or Disunion
Letter of Hon. S.S. Marsahll on the Parties and Politics of the Day to the Freemen of the 9th Congressional Dist. of Illinois. 1856
At the twenty-third annual meeting of the Massachusetts Anti- Slavery Society, which convened at Boston on the 24th day of January last , it was
"Resolved, That the one great issue before the country is the dissolution of the Union, in comparison with which, all other issues with the slave power are as dust in the balance ; therefore, we will give ourselves to the work of annulling this covenant with death, as essential to our own innocency, and the speedy and everlasting overthrow of the slave system."
On that occasion, Wendell Phillips commenced his speech, in favor of disunion, thus:
"I entirely accord with the sentiment of that last resolution. I think all we have to do is to prepare the public mind by the daily and hourly presentation of the doctrine of disunion. Events which, fortunately for us, the government itself, and other parties, are producing with unexampled rapidity, are our best aid."
And this speech, continued in this spirit, was applauded throughout by the audience there assembled.
On the 18th of December last, Mr. Giddings, in the House of Representatives, made a speech on the organization of the House, in which, after heaping upon the South the most insulting epithets, and thereby, as far as in him lay, weakening the bonds of the Union, in alluding to a remark that the aggressions of the Black Republicans, if continued, would lead to a destruction of the government, he turned to the southern members, and, in a tone of bravado, remarked: "You shall not dissolve the Union." " With unwavering determination we say to those traitors, you shall not dissolve it." The Boston Liberator, of the llth of January last, thus gently reproves the insincerity of his friend :
"Mr. Giddings says truly, that the dissolution of the Union has long been held up as a scare-crow by the South ; but when he adds that the friends of liberty have never demanded it, his statement is untrue, unless he means to confine it to his political associates, who are but compromisers at best. We demand nothing short of a dissolution, absolute and immediate. The Union which was founded by our fathers, was cemented with the blood of the slave, and effected through his immolation."
On our last national anniversary—the 4th of July of the present year—when the whole American people should have sent up one united heart to the throne of God, in gratitude for the countless blessings showered upon us, a mass meeting was held at Frarmngham, in Massachusetts, at which several disunion speeches were made, and received with applause. My space will not permit me to give extracts from but two. Wm. Lloyd Garrison said:
"Let us, then, to-day, rejecting as wild and chimerical all suggestions, propositions, and contrivances for restraining slavery in i's present limits, while extending constitutional protection lo it in fifteen of the thirty-one States, register our pledge anew before Heaven and the world, that we will do what in us lies lo effect the eternal overthrow of this blood-stained Union, that thus our enslaved countrymen may find a sure deliverance, and we may no longer be answerable for their blood." .
I will now, without comment, give a few additional extracts from speeches and writings of the leaders of the Fremont party out of a large pile lying before me, and which is, day by day, accumulating on my hands:
" The Union is not worth supporting in connection with the South."—Horace Greeley.
" I look forward to the day when there shall be a servile insurrection in the South; when the black man, armed with British bayonets, and led on by British officers, shall assert his freedom, and wage a war of extermination against his master; when the torch of the incendiary shall light up the towns and cities of the South, and blot out the last vestige of slavery ; and though I may not laugh at their calamity, nor mock when their fear cometh, yet I shall hail it as the dawn of a political millenium."— Giddings.
" Better disunion, better a civil or a servile war, better anything that God in his providence shall send, than an extension of the bonds of slavery."—Hurace Mann.
" If peaceful means fail us, and we are driven to the last extremity, where ballots are useless then we'll make bullets effective."—Hon. Eraslus H pkins, of Massachusetts
" On the action of this convention depends the fate of the country ; if the ' Republicans' fail at the ballot-box, we will be forced to drive back the slaveocracy With Fire And The Sword." —General Webb in a speech in the convention that nominated Fremont, and which was received with " tremendous applause.'"
"The remedy is to go to the polls, and through the ballot-box repudiate the infamous platform put forth at Cincinnati, and over which the black flag of slavery waves with characteristic impudence ; and failing in this, do as our fathers did before us—stand by our inalienable rights and drive back, with arms, those who dare to trample upon our inheritance."—General Webb, from «n editorial in his paper.
" I sincerely hope a civil war may burst upon the country. I want to see American slavery abolished in my day. It is a legacy I have no wish to leave my children. Then my most fervent prayer is that England, France and Spain may speedily take this slavery-accursed nation into their special consideration, and when the time arrives for the streets of the cities of this ' land of ihe free and home of the brave' to run with blood to the horses' bridles, it the writer of this be living, there will be one heart to rejoice at the retributive justice of Heaven."—W. 0. Duvall, " one of the leading Republicans of New York."