THE NORTH AND SOUTH
Divers and sundry Southern Journals, of which the most prominent are the Richmond South and the Washington Union, have seen fit to take serious exceptions to a statement recently made in these columns on the subject of the North and its relations with the South. We asserted the fact, which no man familiar with the population of the Northern States will attempt to deny, that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 cannot be so executed in the North as to afford any practical protection to the slaveholders of the South, and that every instance of an attempt to execute it only inflames still more fiercely the hostility of the Northern masses towards the Slaveholding States. In this assertion of ours the enlightened conductors of the Washington Union profess to have discovered a “fair specimen” of a new school of moral philosophy, described by them as “Black Republican ethics;” while the Richmond South, manifesting a more rational temper of inquiry, is anxious to be informed how we can reconcile this, our hostility to the Fugitive Slave Law, without determination to defend the inviolability of Slavery where it exists, by foreign interference.” TO the Richmond South, then, we make reply. We reconcile our hostility to all such useless, and worse than useless, legislation, as the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850, with our respect for the obligations of the Union, by a very simple process. We believe that the obligations of the Union can only be maintained by maintaining in the hearts of the people of this country those feelings of mutual respect and affection upon which the obligations of the Union rest, and we believe that those feelings can only be maintained by such mutual concessions and forbearances as the exigencies of the national condition shall suggest.
Many citizens of the Northern States, respectable in all the relations of private life, are animated by a passionate conviction that the existence of Slavery within the borders of this Union is an infamy and a horror which should be wiped from the national [illegible] at all hazards, and without a moment’s delay. These persons are known both at the North and at the South by the name of Abolitionists. They have an undoubted right to entertain the conviction in question, and to use any language which may seem to them good, on that subject, we recommend it to ask information of the Journal of Commerce, which is a sound-“party” authority, and quite free from any suspicion of “Black Republicanism.” When the Journal of Commerce talks boldly of the “blight of Slavery,” and recommends “gradual emancipation” to the people of Missouri, the Washington Union may be sure that the Northern sentiment is not likely to be propitious either to the Fugitive Slave Law or to the “Hon. Henry B. Parker, the Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio,” norwithstanding the surprising intelligence which that gentleman has manifested, according to the Union, in discovering that the “Dred Scott Decision is now the recognized law of the land, and of—England!”
In giving it forcible and frequent expression. We, on the other hand, who do not agree with them, and who believe that a general acquiescence of the Northern people in their views would precipitate the country into a civil war, and bring upon the Southern States a pestilence of terror and of ruin, without elevating the negro race in the scale of civilization, or advancing the permanent interests of civilization—we have a right, as patriotic citizens, to protest against the adoption of Abolitionist language and Abolitionist measures by the Northern presses and the Northern Legislatures, in the name of a just national sentiment and in the spirit of a just national statesmanship. We regard every Abolitionist, however sincere, as a dangerous person—a propagator of strife rather than of peace. We acknowledge his rights, but deplore his use of them. On the other hand, there exist a great many persons at the South whose passion for Slavery blinds them to the fact that sentiment of the Northern people revolts from the actual contact of Slavery with the Northern life. These persons, instead of being governed by the patriotic and statesmanlike spirit which animated Washington when he forbore to press his own claims for a fugitive slave rather than excite the popular feeling of New Hampshire against the South, are apparently reckless of all consequences to the nation, provided they can indicate a theoretical right. Theirs is the temper of Robespierre, who was willing that millions of Frenchmen should lose their heads rather than his Ideal of Republicanism should be touched in one iota of its perfection. These persons it is, who, in face of the fact, demonstrated by seven years of angry experiences, that the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850 is virtually inoperative throughout the North, excepting for purposes of agitation, dwell with intense ardor and earnestness upon the supreme importance to us and to our children of that precious piece of purely provocative legislation.
In so doing, we hold that these persons prove themselves to be dangerous fanatics. Every slaveholder has a right, under the Constitution and all the laws of the land, to pursue his slave into all the drawing-rooms of New York, to search for him under the French bedsteads of the Fifth-avenue, or among the pallets of the Five Points—a right to demand a posse of hunters from the New-York Club, and generally to aggravate, excite, worry and insult the population of this City, until he shall have succeeded in recapturing his runaway Sambo, or in getting himself satisfactorily shot. But we submit that the slaveholder who acts in this manner puts himself on a par with the Abolitionist who asserts his right of free speech by miscellaneous onslaughts upon the Institutions of the South, or by Quixotie crusades into the wildernesses of Virginia. And therefore it is that we regard hostility to the Fugitive Slave Law as being eminently compatible with a respect “for the inviolability of Slavery by foreign interference, wherever it lawfully exists.”
In this, our position, we beg leave to say that we are not adopting the platform of the “Black Republican Party,” or of any other party whatever. We should be very glad to see this position taken up by all the parties in the country, for we regard it as the only position from which a clear, and practical, and commanding view of the policy essential to the peaceful settlement of our national differences and difficulties can be obtained. But, as we have already so often done, we must now again reiterate our conviction that until the practice of taking “party cant” and of bandying partisan abuse is abandoned by the leading journals of this country, there is small reason to hope that clear, practical and commanding views of any great national question whatever will be recommended by our statesmen, or adopted by the people, who look to them for guidance. We have taken no notice of the issue which the Washington Union attempts to raise with us on the question of the Northern hostility to Slavery. That issue can hardly have been seriously raised. But if the Washington Union really entertains any doubt.