A Sensible Letter from David Paul Brown on Sectionalism

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    “A Sensible Letter from David Paul Brown on Sectionalism,” New York Daily Times, 18 February 1857, p. 2.
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    A Sensible Letter from David Paul Brown on Sectionalism
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    Meghan Allen
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    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 Sensible Letter from David Paul Brown on Sectionalism.

    PHILADELPHIA, Sunday, Feb. 1, 1857.

    To ______ ______, Publisher of Mobile:

    DEAR SIR: You will pardon my writing to you, when I state that Mr. SMALL has handed me your letter of the 18th ult., in relation to the Forum, wherein you say, “we do not think it will have a very large sale in our section of the country, as the author, DAVID PAUL BROWN, is here suspected of being an Abolitionist.” Now it makes very little difference to me, as I am not a professional author, whether the book has an extensive sale or not, (although I may say its success has been beyond my utmost hopes,) but I am sorry that you should ascribe its want of favor in Mobile to the suspicion that the author is a friend of human freedom. It is this sort of preposterous prejudice that sunders the North from the South. Nullification, abolitionism, and disunion are introduced into every other subject, as if reasonable and patriotic men were to be affrighted by bugbears, and an indiscriminate prejudice substituted for judgment. As to suspecting me of being an Abolitionist, in one sense of the word, I trust I am beyond suspicion. If you mean, by Abolitionism, a constitutional and a rational opponent of Slavery, I put the matter beyond suspicion, and, in legal phrase, “plead guilty” at once. My whole life is evidence of my guilt. But, if you mean, in the first place, to attach every kind of odium to the term Abolition—such as fanaticism, radicalism, disunion and scoundrelism—then allow me to say you neither understand me nor the principles I advocated and espouse. I am as much opposed to Northern as I am to Southern ultraism—they are equally to be condemned, and they equally contribute to agitate and to degrade the country. I should be as much ashamed to myself to decline reading a book because it comes from the South as I should be to refuse to speak to my own brother, because upon some subjects he might entertain different opinions from myself.

    I repeat it then—there is no occasion for you suspicions. My attachment to constitutional freedom is perfectly known—it is second only to my devotion to the Union. In the recent political conflict I opposed the sectional candidate for the Executive chair, because it appeared to me, that what I held to be the first consideration (the entire Union,) he might make the second, and thereby in promoting the freedom of two millions of slaves, endanger the liberty of twenty millions of freeman. This impression may have been wrong, but it was one of the grounds upon which I preferred MILLARD FILLMORE to both of the other candidates. These principles were fully announced by me in my speech before the National Convention at Baltimore, and you will pardon my vanity when I say I presumed they were known even in Mobile.

    It is a remarkable feature in this controversy between North and South, that, contrary to the maxim that the middle course is the best, the man that pursues that course is condemned by the public on both sides. The North say I am a Southern man—the South say I am a Northern man, and I say I am American—not a sectionalist—not embracing one to the exclusion of the other—and permit me to add, that I have less fear in avowing this, as I ask no favors from either, have done much more for both parties than they ever did for me, and on the score of gratitude I stand acquitted.

    I have thus thought proper to say more than was perhaps absolutely necessary in reply to your letter—self-vindication is sometimes too diffuse; and if I have trespassed in that respect, have the kindness to impute it to the desire that every man should endeavor to stand fairly in the estimation of his fellow-men.

    Respectfully, &c.,

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