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VI.-THE WAR OF SECESSION IN AMERICA: ITS
ANTECEDENTS AND CHRONOLOGY. SLAVE-LABOUR, originally introduced by Great Britain into her American colonies, has at length become the chief cause of the present civil war in the American States. Other causes have contributed to produce this disastrous result, but this is certainly the most important.
In 1790 the number of slaves in the United States was 697,897, out of a population of 3,927,872. At that date, Massachusetts and Maine had no slaves, Vermont had only 17, and New Hampshire only 158. All the other States possessed slaves in large numbers. From circumstances of climate, soil, and locality, the Northern States became manufacturing and commercial, and the Southern agricultural. The negro was found to be of small value for manufacturing purposes, but peculiarly suited for field-labour in a warm climate. Hence the number of slaves gradually diminished in the North, and increased in the South.
The cotton-plant was introduced into Georgia in 1786, but made slow progress till about 1793, when the invention of the cotton-gin for separating the fibre from the seed, and other improvements in preparing the raw material for the manufacturers, caused so rapid an increase in the demand, that the production, which in 1791 was only 5,000 bales, had risen in 1831 to 960,000 bales, and in 1860 had reached the enormous amount of 4,600,000 bales. The supply kept pace with the demand. The manufacturers of Great Britain, France, the Northern States of America, and other countries, purchased the slave-cultivated cotton in continually increasing quantities, spun it, wove it, and the public bought it. Slave-owners, merchants, manufacturers, and traders, all accumulated riches, and the world was supplied cheaply and abundantly with cotton fabrics of every description. But the extinction of slavery in the British West India colonies, combined with the agitating discussions which had preceded it, directed the attention of the public, and of the religious classes particularly, to the evils of slave-labour. A large and gradually increasing party of Abolitionists grew up in the Northern States of America, seconded by Emancipationists in Great Britain, who objected vehemently to the continuance of slavery in the States, denounced the slave-owners as criminals of the darkest dye, and used every means in their power to induce and assist the slaves to escape from their bondage. The slave-owners, on the contrary, clung to their domestic institution' as a necessity of their existence
“ You take my house when you do take the prop
When you do take the means whereby I live.” They were irritated excessively by the vituperation poured out upon them by the Abolitionists of the North; and many of them, in their passionate self-vindication, contended that this abominable social system was sanctioned by Scripture, and was a benefit, if not a blessing, to the African race.
But slavery in the United States was not merely a 'domestic institution. It was also a political institution, coeval with the establishment of the Federal Union, and recognized and guaranteed by the Constitution, which, by the Fourth Article, provided, that a slave who might “ escape from one State into another” should be “delivered up upon claim to the party to whom his service or labour may be due." This provision having been evaded by several of the States, the Congress, in 1850, passed a Fugitive Slave Law to enforce it, but this law again was rendered ineffective in nearly all the Free States by the passing of Personal Liberty Laws, which either nullified the Act of Congress, or rendered useless any attempt to enforce it. These proceedings of the Northern States were held by the Southern to be so material a breach of the original compact on which the Union was formed as (irrespective of other causes of discontent), to justify them in withdrawing from the Federation. They contended that the Union was a combination of independent States for the accomplishment of defined purposes; and that the conditions of the Union having been violated, they were justified in withdrawing from the partnership
Though the great struggle for independence and the obvious advantages of a federal government had originally combined the Northern and Southern States in a political union, there was, from the very origin of the settlements, a discordancy of character in the inhabitants of the two sections which threatened separation at no distant period. The Puritans of Massachusetts and the Royalist refugees of Virginia regarded each other with a feeling of mutual dislike. The animosities of the Roundheads and Cavaliers were transferred from England to America ; and the masses of German and Irish emigrants who have since poured into the Northern States have increased the feeling of animosity in the Southern States to a degree of intensity which cannot be conceived by those who have not witnessed it.
But besides this personal feeling of ill-will and the great quarrel on the question of slavery, the Southern States had long been dissatisfied with the commercial policy of the North, which was directly opposed to their material interests. They were agricultural; they produced cotton, tobacco, sugar, rice; and they wanted a free trade to exchange their raw materials for the manufactures of Europe. The Northern States, on the contrary, with a view to encourage their manufactures, imposed highly protective duties, which prevented foreign imports from entering into competition with American goods in the markets of the South, and in some articles had the effect of prohibiting importation altogether. These restrictions pressed heavily on the South, and occasioned universal discontent. Other causes of dissatisfaction were, that the Northern States drew large sums from the common treasury for the construction of navy-yards, docks, arsenals, forts, lighthouses, on their own coasts, whilst similar establishments on the much longer line of the Southern coasts were few and incomplete ; that, in fact, they were unfairly treated, and that one moiety of the Union was taxed to promote the power and prosperity of the other.
But the great contest was political, and the Southern States struggled on the arena of Congress against the increasing predominancy of the North. As the number of members sent to the House of Representatives is in proportion to the population of each State, the North had a majority of votes in that House; but, as the Senate is composed of two members from each State, and no more, the South retained a resisting power there till the number of States had increased from 13 to 30; but when, in 1860, the total number of States had become 34, and the Slave States were restricted to 15, the political power of the South was at an end. The election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States brought the feeling of discontent in the South to a crisis. The Republican party, who placed him in power, included the whole of the Abolitionists; all the Free States voted for him; all the Slave States against him. A distinct line of demarcation was thus drawn between the two sections of the Union, and the Northern section was the victor.
Anticipating this result, the Southern States entered into a combination to withdraw from the Union. South Carolina led the way. On the 20th of December, 1860, a convention assembled at Charleston adopted an ordinance in the following terms :-“We, the people of South Carolina, in convention assembled, do declare and ordain, and it is hereby declared and ordained, that the ordinance adopted by us in convention on the 23rd day of May, 1788, whereby the Constitution of the United States was ratified, and also all Acts and parts of Acts of the General Assembly of the State ratifying amendments of the said Constitution, are hereby repealed ; and that the Union now subsisting between South Carolina and the other States under the name of the United States of America, is hereby dissolved.” The convention, at the same time, drew up a Declaration of immediate causes which induce and justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union,” at the commencement of which it is stated, that “The people of South Carolina, in convention assembled, on the 2nd day of April, 1852, declared, that the frequent violations of the Constitution of the United States by the Federal Government, and its encroachments on the reserved rights of the States, fully justified this State in their withdrawal from the Federal Union ; but, in deference to the feelings and wishes of the other slave-holding States, she forebore at that time to exercise this right. Since that time these encroachments have continued to increase, and further forbearance ceases to be a virtue.”
The other seceding States pursued a course similar to that of South Carolina. The dates at which they successively withdrew from the Union are as follows: South Carolina Dec, 20, 1860. Texas
Feb. 1, 1861. Mississippi . Jan, 9, 1861. Virginia April 17, 1861. Alabama Jan. 11, 1861. Arkansas
May 6, 1861, Florida ,
Jan. 12, 1861. Tennessee May 8, 1861. Georgia. Jan. 19, 1861. North Carolina May 20, 1861. Louisiana Jan. 28, 1861. The aggregate area of these eleven States is 767,893 square miles, which is more than eight times the area of Great Britain. According
to the census of 1860, the free population of these eleven States was 5,581,649; the slave population, 3,520,116; total, 9, 101,765.
The four other Slave States are Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri. The aggregate area of these four States is 115,837 square miles. The free population, in 1860, was 2,698,841; the slave population, 429,441; total, 3,128,282.
The aggregate area of the nineteen Free States (including the district of Columbia) is 997,281 square miles. The population of these nineteen States (including Columbia), in 1860, was 18,979,695.
There are also seven Territories not yet admitted as States of which the aggregate area has not yet been ascertained. The total population of these seven Territories, in 1860, was 220,149.
Thus, the aggregate area of the United States, before the Socession, and exclusive of the Territories, was 1,881,011 square miles. The total population of the thirty-four States (incluing Columbia) was 31,209,742. Including the Territories, the grand total of the population, in 1860, was 31,429,891.
1861. On the 9th of January, President Buchanan, in a Message to Congress, stated, that "in several of the States which have not yet seceded, the forts, arsenals, and magazines of the United States have been seized.” And on this day the first shot was fired which announced the determination of the South to resist by force of arms the power of the North. A vessel sent with troops and stores to reinforce Fort Sumter, at the entrance of Charleston Harbour, as she was passing Morris Island, was fired upon, when
she stopped her course, and retired. On the 9th of February a convention of the seven States which had then seceded, held at Montgomery, in Alabama, elected Mr. Jefferson Davis to be Provisional President of the Confederate States; and on the 18th he was inaugurated in the office.
On the 4th of March Mr. Abraham Lincoln assumed office as President of the United States. On that occasion he made the following statement :-“I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists. I believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do so. Those who nominated and elected me did so with full knowledge that I had made this and many similar declarations, and had never revoked them. And more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read :
-Resolved–That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of power on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend, and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest of crimes.'
But the Secessionists had no confidence in the declarations of Mr. Lincoln, or the resolutions of the Republicans. Terms of accommodation were proposed, but they came to nothing. The South insisted on separation, and the North was conscious, that, the precedent of secession once established, the anticipated grandeur of the American Republic would never be realized,
One of the first proceedings of Mr. Lincoln's Government was to endeavour to reinforce and supply with provisions the garrisons at Charleston. For this purpose a number of transports, under convoy of two ships of war, proceeded from New York ; but the fleet was dispersed by a storm. Meantime, Major Anderson, who commanded the forces of the United States Charleston, had evacuated Castle Pinckney, and Fort Moultrie, and had removed the small garrisons to Fort Sumter. On the 11th of April, General Beauregard, who commanded the Confederate troops and forts at Charleston,
sent a summons to Major Anderson to surrender. General Beauregard met with a refusal, and on the 12th commenced the bombardment of Sumter by the other forts and batteries. The assailed fort replied vigorously for some time, but the bombardment having been continued for about forty hours, the garrison was under the necessity of surrendering on the afternoon of the 13th. Major Anderson was courteously treated, and on the following day was taken on board a steamer to be conveyed to New York. Only two or three men were killed, and a few wounded.
This hostile proceeding of the authorities at Charleston caused intense excitement and indignation in the Northern States. War became inevitable. President Lincoln, on the 15th of April, issued a proclamation denouncing the illegal combinations of the seven seceding States, and calling out the militia of the United States to the number of 75,000. On the 19th of April he issued another proclamation, in which he gave notice that the ports of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Texas, were placed under blockade. On the 21st of April the Federal authorities dismantled the navy-yard at Norfolk, and sunk or destroyed the “Merrimac,' 'Jamestown, Pennsylvania,' •Delaware,' and Columbus,' to prevent them from falling into the hands of the Confederates.
On the 3rd of May, President Lincoln issued a proclamation, calling out, for the service of the United States, 42,000 volunteers, and directing that the regular army should be increased by 23,000 soldiers, and the navy by 18,000 seamen.
Immediately after the above proclamation, the Confederate Congress passed an Act recognizing “ the existence of war between the United States and the Confederate States."
On the 4th of May, Mr. Seward, the Federal Secretary of State, in a despatch addressed to the American Ambassador at Paris, announced that the United States had “ accepted the civil war as an inevitable necessity,” and that “there is not now, nor has there been, nor will there be, any the least idea existing in this Government of suffering a dissolution of the Union to take place in any way whatever.”
On the 13th of May, a proclamation by the Queen of Great Britain commanded all her subjects to observe a strict neutrality in the war which had commenced between the United States and Confederate States, acknowledging the latter as belligerents. The Emperor of the French also, by a notification, in the Moniteur' of the 11th of June, announced his intention to observe a similar neutrality.
At the commencement of June, General Beauregard, who had been removed from Charleston to take the command of the Confederate army in Virginia, had his head-quarters at Manassas Junction, about 30 miles S.W. from the city of Washington.
The Congress of the United States having assembled, President Lincoln, in his Message, on the 5th of July, required to be provided with 400,000 men and 400,000,000 dollars, to carry on the war. On the 10th of July the House of Representatives passed a Bill, also passed by