Charleston (SC) Mercury, "Southern Rights," May 27, 1857

    Source citation
    "Southern Rights," Charleston (SC) Mercury, May 27, 1857, p. 2: 4.
    Original source
    New Orleans (LA) Times
    Newspaper: Publication
    Charleston Mercury
    Newspaper: Headline
    Southern Rights
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Date Certainty
    Michael Blake, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    From the New Orleans Daily Times.

    Southern Rights.

    Genius is always prophetic.  When John C. Calhoun stood forward as the exponent of States' Rights he clearly foresaw the hour when it would be necessary for each Southern State to rely upon itself.  Too much stress is laid upon the benefits derived from compromises.  Men may rely upon compromises until they compromise their honor.  At best a compromise only postpones the day for action.  Lack the courage to meet the difficulty, people leave it as a legacy to their sons in the vain hope that they may be better able to cope with it than themselves.  

     Thus stands the South today.  The self-reliant spirit that should lead to organization is scarcely discernable.  During a fierce struggle like that which took place in Kansas last year, and, also, in the midst of a Presidential contest, brave words are spoken; but the excitement dies away, and we forget our oaths and protestations, and think rather of the enjoyments of the day than the safety of the morrow.

    A great principle, however, never dies.  That mighty conception of the brain of Calhoun, that resistance to aggression from the North was a sacred duty with every Southern man, cannot, be cast aside.  Our case is peculiar.  We are not as other nations struggling with a privileged class who believe themselves born to command, but with a section of the country upon whom we have always conferred the greatest favors.  We never interfere with the rights of the North; on the contrary, we have constantly protected them.  We have ever been one of the great sources of Northern prosperity; our products have filled its warehouses and its ships, supplied its manufactories and enabled its commercial men to make rapid fortunes.  The North, with all its fanatical rage, can point only to the Fugitive Slave Law, and the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, as measures which it deemed unjust to itself.

    Both of these objections arose through ignorance.  Property, which is so much more sacred than life at the North, does not with us lose its value when the future of a poor serving man or woman is connected with it.  The negro in the North is of no account; he may starve, he may rot, and he is free to do so.  We desire to recover our property from such a fate, and hence we stand by the Fugitive Slave Law.  Southern Courts; and we require the same need of justice.  The needle-women, and all the poor working classes of New York, Philadelphia, and Boston, we are aware, are rated so cheaply by their employers that they would not give a hundred dollars for a score of them.  They are looked upon as mere sources of profit for the day, that can be remorselessly cast aside the moment they cease to toil.  We connect benevolence with labor; we protect our poor in childhood and old age, and while the Union lasts we are resolved not to resign them to the misery which is their doom whenever they fly to Free States.  In coming to this decision we do not trespass on any right.  If a man were to take our purse we would pursue him, although he might protest loudly against our liberty to do so; if a State either steals or becomes the receiver of our slaves, we have an equal right to recover them.

    The repeal of the Missouri Compromise was a necessity.  It had already existed too long.  No compromise can be eternal.  The very work expresses its limited duration.  Between 1820 and 1854 there was a wide gap.  We were not where we had been.  The South, checked by Northern selfishness from launching out into grand enterprises that would build up flourishing States beyond our territory, required a fair field for expansion within the limits of the Union.  It was also palpable that we could not retain our rights unless the balance of power was preserved.  Hence the repeal of an obnoxious law became inevitable.  The North did not desire the change, because it sought to gain an unequal share of authority, and to humiliate us in our most vital interests.

    It is wrong to confide in the present lull in the political world.  The election of Mr. Buchanan we approved of at the time, and still applaud; but we do not place blind confidence in him.  All that we desire to gain in the future we can alone secure by faith in Southern Rights.  Washington is very well, but home is far better.  The illustrious statesman of South Carolina was, during life, a guide and after death, a creed.  Earnestness, watchfulness, foresight, patriotism and genius were always with him.  They were lavished generously on the South.  The grandeur of his nature may yet be disseminated among us if we be but true to ourselves.

    Organization through every Southern State, and if feasible through many of the Western ones, shoud be our resolve.  "In time of peace prepare for war" has been a maxim long respected by statesmen.  The Free Soil clubs of the North are still ready to wage battle with us; they never relinquish their aggressive policy.  Why should we hesitate to meet the danger while we have the means?  Southern rights can alone be maintained by showing a bold front to our antagonists.  We must reveal to them by our actions that while we love the Union as dearly as it is possible for men to do, we prize the liberties and the honor that we received from our forefathers, and which we desire to leave intact to our children, still more.

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