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Botts on two causes working together


It is a circumstance not to be overlooked here, that throughout the period that these measures were before Congress, the extreme men of both sections, to wit, the Northern Abolitionists and the Southern Seceders and "Fire-eaters," as they were called, uniformly and invariably acted and voted together. In illustration of this, I will mention an amusing incident that occurred at the Exchange Hotel in Richmond. Shortly after the passage of these measures, the celebrated John P. Hale, senator from New Hampshire, came-to Richmond. I happened to be present with the late Caleb Jones — a near neighbor and friend, although a violent Democrat, with whom I had walked to the Exchange—when the Northern cars arrived, and Mr. Hale entered the room. After the usual salutations, Jones said, " Why, JETale, ain't you afraid to come to Richmond ?" Hale, who affected surprise and uneasiness, looking around the room, in which there were quite a number of persons, replied, " Well, I don't know \ is there any danger in my coming here ? Don't Mason come to Richmond ? Don't Hunter come to Richmond ? Don't Seddon come to Richmond ? And if they can come, can't I come also, for I voted with them all the winter ? If they gave Southern votes, so did I; and if I gave Northern votes, so did they ; and don't you think what is sauce for the goose should also be sauce for the gander ?" This happy retort on the part of Hale not only discomfited poor Jones (who was a warm political friend and supporter of these three gentlemen), but completely turned the laugh of the whole company, Whigs and Democrats, who recognized the truth of what he had said, upon Jones, who joined in the laugh> but, as he told me afterward, he never enjoyed one so little, for there was more truth than poetry in the answer.


It is curious to inquire how and why it happened that for so long a time these two extremes were thus found in active co-operation, voting side by side with each other, and on that particular subject upon which the greatest antagonism exivSted. The solution is simple: these two parties were always alike in favor of constant and eternal agitatioD, and alike opposed to all compromise or settlement of the questions arising out of the slavery issue. The Abolitionists relied on agitation and excitement to make proselytes to their cause, while the Secessionists thought that, by keeping this subject alive in Congress, and wherever else it could be introduced, the fears of our people would become the more susceptible, and their passions more easily aroused, and the way be thus paved for ultimate disunion. These Southern men never cared for disunion, nor desired it, except as a necessary means of retaining power in the government; nor would they have tolerated it as long as they could hold that power in their own hands; and after all the New England States became anti-Democratic, thus presenting an insuperable barrier to the permanency of their power, a new idea presented itself to their imaginations, which was a partial disunion, and that was to be effected by sloughing oiF the New England States, not because they were more thoroughly imbued with Abolition than Ohio and other Western States, but that they were more certainly anti-Democratic in their proclivities.

In like manner the extreme Abolitionists were anxious for a partial dissolution ; their object was to get rid of the institution of slavery, and they were willing to do anything that would drive the Cotton States off, into which all the slaves of the Border States, as they thought, would soon find their way. Thus, and for these objects, the question of slavery was used as a foot-ball, or, rather, as a shuttle-cock, with which the political game of battle-door was played by these two extremes—extreme in their folly and fanaticism; extreme in their disregard of all other views than their own; extreme in their utter disregard of all constitutional obligations; extreme in their disloyalty to the government; extreme in their general disturbance of the public tranquillity and safety; extreme in tlieir extravagance and violence, and extreme in their hatred and contempt of each other. And now, I will venture on one other prediction, and that is,, that if a proposition shall ever be made by the South for a restoration of peace, it will be one based, if not in direct terms, at least upon the idea of a restoration of power to the Democratic party by throwing off the New England States, or something else that will insure their future triumph."

A case in point...the actions of Ben. Butler and cohorts at the Democratic Convention in 1860 which led to the party splitting...Butler helping the secessionist cause, then in April 1861 asking to lead the first Union troops against secession.

David Upton

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Botts on two causes working together
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