A Southern View of the Prospects of Slavery in Kansas

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    “A Southern View of the Prospects of Slavery in Kansas,” New York Daily Times, 31 January 1857, p. 2.
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    A Southern View of the Prospects of Slavery in Kansas
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    Meghan Allen
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    A Southern View of the Prospects of Slavery in Kansas.

    From the Charleston (S.C.) Standard.

    Mr. STEVENS, of Georgia, in the debate in the House said, “he had never advocated the Kansas-Nebraska bill as a Southern, but as a National and Constitutional measure. Although he should like to see Kansas admitted into the Union as a Slave State, he thought there was no such probability. Not only the laws of climate and production, but those of population would prevent it, and so of the other Territories.”

    This is an opinion which will grate harshly upon the feelings of the Southern States; but we fear it is correct. We stand in view of stern facts, and we think it right to contemplate them. It is a fact that the North has the larger population—that it has 16,000,000, while the South has only 10,000,000. It is a fact the Free States include only 612,000 square miles, while the Slave States contain 856,000. It is a fact, therefore, that with an equal application of its force to agricultural purposes, the North has an excess of about 8,000,000 people to apply to arts and emigration. It is a fact that to every man, woman and child, white or black, in the Southern States, there are 517 acres of land to be cultivated. It is a fact that every individual in the Southern States in not competent to the cultivation of such an amount of land; that there is land, therefore, beyond the wants of our Southern people; that they have no motive of interest to emigrate to other lands beyond; that they cannot stay and cultivate their own lands and go abroad and cultivate others; and in view of these facts it must be admitted that the Territory of Kansas or any other Territory is not the want of the South, and not being the want of the South it is not fairly to be supposed that we can take it. We may send parties there, and hold it in military subjections, if the South shall be prepared for such a measure, but it is not to be supposed that the South will preserve in such an occupation without the hope of ultimately sustaining it by emigration.

    We assent to the proposition that the South must have equal political power in the Union as the condition of political security. While the North has 16,000,000 and 16 States, and the South has only 10,000,000 people and 15 States, and while it is assumed that the majority must govern, it is not within the range of hope that the interests of the South, in Federal legislation, will be properly protected; but equality, if it ever comes to us again, must come in other ways and to expand over vacant territory as rapidly as the North does, is, perhaps, the merest impossibility.

    One class of politicians at the South propose a revision of the Constitution, so as that the South shall have a veto upon Federal legislation. Another proposes to bring in foreign slaves, and thus acquire the ability to expand pari passu with the North. There is still another party, who say that both these measures are impracticable. There say that the majority at the North will not admit of a revision of the Constitution, and that they will equally oppose the importation of foreign labor to the South. But we are inclined to doubt whether this last opinion be correct. If the South shall demand a modification of the Constitution, or shall demand the right to other slaves, we doubt whether that may not be put in such a shape as that the North cannot resist it. But if in neither of these ways can we find the road to political security, we have no hope of finding it in expansion.

    We regret the inability to indulge in the illusions which we believe are agreeable to the great majority of our people. We favored the passage of the Kansas-Nebraska bill for the very reason maintained by Mr. STEVENS; we felt the restrictions of the Missouri Compromise to be the touch, a tyranny upon the South, and as such were prompted to repudiate it, but we have never had the hope that in any natural way can we keep pace with the North in States and population, and without the hope of this, we have frankly said as we say now, that if this shall be necessary, some other line of policy must be adopted. We know it has been objected against us that we urge this question. There are many who believe we can take Kansas and are unwilling that discouragements should be thrown in the way or efforts to that end; but we believe it is not policy to expand our energies upon a cause that can never be successful. If we take that Territory, the triumph will be illusive; we must take it at the expense of population from the older States. When we get it, the North will be ready with Nebraska. The States will then stand seventeen to sixteen. The North will soon be ready with another and another, when we cannot keep in even this proximity to them. At last we must ultimately fall from the greater impediments under which we labor, and we think it best that the public mind should be relieved from such illusive hopes and be fixed, as soon as possible, upon the stern realities before us. We must demand a modification of the Constitution, or we must demand slaves, and the sooner we come to an election between these alternatives the greater will be our chances of success.

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