New York Times, “A New Kink in the Southern Mind,” May 7, 1857

    Source citation
    “A New Kink in the Southern Mind,” New York Times, May 7, 1857, p. 4: 4.
    Newspaper: Publication
    New York Daily Times
    Newspaper: Headline
    A New Kink in the Southern Mind
    Newspaper: Page(s)
    Newspaper: Column
    Date Certainty
    Scott Ackerman, Dickinson College
    Transcription date
    The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print.  Spelling and other typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.

    A New Kink in the Southern Mind.

    When a man keeps a powder magazine in the cellar of his house, every alarm of fire very naturally throws him into a tremor; and he will be likely to neglect a good many important matters in his anxiety to guard against a conflagration. While his neighbors are sleeping soundly in their beds he is lying awake with a beating heart, calculating the possibilities of being blown sky-high by a spontaneous combustion, or from a chance spark lighting upon his roof. This is the unhappy condition of our friends in the Slave States. While the people of the Free States have never felt the slightest apprehensions for the permanence of their institutions, and have been able, therefore, to devote their entire energies to the prosecution of their great enterprises for improving their material prosperity, the people of the Slave States have been comparatively paralyzed by the constant sense of danger which their one perilous institution imposes upon them. Two-thirds, at least, of their time, and their energy, their talents and their means have been devoted to the preservation of their Slave system. All other considerations have been made secondary to this great and overshadowing interest. This comfortable feeling of perfect security which is common in all of the Free States; the people of the South are strangers to. They are obliged to keep a double watch to preserve themselves from the attacks of their Slaves, and to preserve their Slaves from the attacks of outsiders. In addition to the old complicated dangers which have beset them, and kept them constantly in a state bordering on civil war, they have lately discovered a new cause for alarm, and are devising means to avert the new dangers which threatens them.

    The New Orleans Crescent, the L’Union of Louisiana, and the Charleston Mercury, profess to have discovered a menacing danger to their institution in Virginia, and other Border States, which must inevitably be compelled, from the impossibility of keeping their slaves, to sell off all their live property and then join the great Free States of the North and West. The effect of such a movement as this would be to convert all the adjoining Slave States into Border States, which would, in time, be compelled to follow the example of their immediate, neighbors, and so the process of converting interior States into Border States, and Border States into Free States, until Slavery would extinguish itself by natural and inevitable law. We must confess that there is a shadow of reality in these border chimeras of Louisiana and South Carolina.

    To prevent Slavery from committing felo de se, the Crescent has suggested that the only effective course will be, for the interior Slave States to pass laws prohibiting the importation of slaves from the Border States. It being presumed that Virginia, and the other breeding States, being denied a market for their great staple, will never feel themselves able to bear so great a loss as the emancipation of their slaves would entail upon them, and that they do now, a cordon of Border States to prevent the escape of slaves from the interior states.

    The objection to this ingenious plan is that the slaves of Virginia are absolutely necessary to the States further South, which do not breed enough laborers for their own wants. To obviate the difficulties from this cause two different schemes have been proposed; one is to reopen the African slave trade, and the other to import Coolies from China. The New-Orleans papers, and especially the Delta, are in favor of the first, while the Charleston Mercury decides in favor of the Coolies. In the meantime, while these points are in the process of discussion by Louisiana and South Carolina, Virginia must look on with very singular sensations to find herself regarded as inevitably taking her natural position as a Free State, unless she can be coerced into the permanent condition of a slave breeder. Perhaps she may come to the conclusion that her only safety lies in taking Time by the forelock and selling off all her slave property while there is yet a market open to her.

    How to Cite This Page: "New York Times, “A New Kink in the Southern Mind,” May 7, 1857," House Divided: The Civil War Research Engine at Dickinson College,