Where is the South?
Thanks to certain parties and persons in the Southern States, the settlement of the Kansas question seems likely to involve the settlement of another and not less important quession [question].
It is about to be decided indefinitely and emphatically, what the “South” is and where we are to look for her. It is about to be distinctly made known to this country, and to the world, what is the temper of the Southern States of this Confederacy-what place they fill in the system to which they belong, and what interpretation they put upon the solemn words of loyalty and patriotism.
In the last Presidential election the Northern States contended for the principle of universal freedom. They fought for the maintenance of the intrinsic rights of freemen to the possession and the profitable use of the vast unappropriated territory of this continent. No considerable portion of the people of the Northern States went into the last conflict with any other purpose. As understood by the North --- by the most intelligent, powerful and responsible classes of the North-the conflict was not a conflict of Abolitionism against Slavery --- it was a conflict of Freedom against Slavery --- a contest involving not retro-active influences upon the past, but prospective influences upon the future. The Southern States arrayed themselves against Mr. FREMONT and the party of which he was a candidate, nominally and in appearance, because they had believed their vested rights to be endangered.
In respect to Kansas, which was the great point of appeal for either party, the South professed not an absolute intention of establishing Slavery in Kansas, but a determination that the question of establishing, or not establishing, Slavery in Kansas should be left an open question to be decided by the people of the Territory. In a word, the South professed to adopt the platform of the Democratic Convention of Cincinnati, by whom the following resolution was passed as the sense of the party:
“Resolved, That we recognize the right of the people of all the Territories, including Kansas and Nebraska, acting through the fairly EXPRESSED (not implied) WILL of the majority of the actual residents, and whenever the number of their inhabitants justifies it, to form a constitution, with or without domestic Slavery, and be admitted into the Union upon terms of perfect equality with the other States.”
With this resolution before them, the Southern people voted for the candidate of the Convention in which it was passed.
We opposed the candidate of that Convention. We held, and still hold, that a policy restricting the extension of Slavery is the only safe and honorable and pacific policy which can be adopted by the people of this country; that it is a policy traditional from the great days of the Fathers of the Republic; that it is the only policy which can conciliate permanently the rights of the South with the instincts of the North. But when the candidate of a party professing a very different policy was elected to the Presidency, he ceased to be for us a candidate to be opposed, and became a President to be observed, criticized, and judged. He became the legally recognized head of the nation, demanding respectful attention and impartial justice from all good citizens.
In relation to Kansas, what has this President done? In the midst of many acts of which we could not approve, he has performed some-and these the most important-which prove him resolved to secure to the true people of Kansas a voice in the settlement of their domestic institutions. Everything goes to show that if such a voice is secured to them, they, in the exercise of their sovereign rights, will make Kansas a Free State. Has the South any right to complain of this? When the South professed Republicanism, did the South mean Despotism? When the South called on the country to leave to the people of Kansas the settlement of their own system, did the South mean that Kansas should rule herself provided she chose to rule herself into Slavery? We have a right to ask these questions. They are provoked by the language of men and of journals which claim to represent Southern people by the action of conventions, by the letters of ambitious Congressmen. They are provoked by such extravagancies of insolence as the following, which we extract from a journal recently established in Richmond, Virginia, a journal which arrogates to itself the title of the “South” and so assumes to speak for the people of that section:
“By the sudden and most shameful treachery of an appointee if the Administration, the South is menaced with the loss of every advantage which we thought to secure by the repeal of the Missouri Restriction. For not only has WALKER delivered Kansas into the hands of the Abolitionist, but he wages war upon the principles of the Kansas-Nebraska act, and threatens to decay the South the security and equality that were anticipated from the policy of Federal non-intervention. Appealing to his sense of personal honor, to his grateful recognition of the important service which he received from the South in the hour of his most urgent necessity to his pledges and his principles, to the circumstances of his position as the impartial representative of the party, the State Rights Democracy entreated Mr. BUCHANAN to give some assurance that WALKER’S course in Kansas is not determined by the instructions or ratified by the approbation of the Administration. And this is not the feeble invocation of a few obscure editors or querulous politicians. With a harmony of utterance which implies an equal unanimity of popular sentiment, and with an energy of remonstrance which reveals an aroused and resolute spirit, the entire Democratic press of the South, with a few insignificant exceptions, accompany their denunciation of WALKER’S conduct with a demand for some exculpatory explanation on the part of the Administration. Nor is that all: the Democracy of Georgia and Mississippi, after the maturest deliberation and in the most solemn manner, declare their emphatic disapprobation of WALKER’S policy, and avow their confident expectations that the President will rebuke him by some signal act which shall serve as a disavowal of all responsibility for his conduct. This is the universal sentiment of the South.”
“It is so indeed,” we ask. Journals like the Richmond Examiner, emphatically deny that it is. We are most anxious to accept that denial. For the South is on its trial before the country- the South and not the President it is that is now called upon to vindicate its loyalty and to display its patriotism. The breakers before us are grim enough. We can pass safely through them only by the exercise of the highest virtues on the part of all who control the opinions and the sentiments of the great sections of our common country. Is the age of national faith, and national patriotism past indeed- or does some hope still remain to us of deliverance from the frenzy of faction and the blind ferocity of fanaticism?