Secession Era Editorials Project
Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic]
(28 November 59)
We are satisfied that the Harper's Ferry invasion will be of great use to
Virginia and the South.
No one in the South could have watched the course of the Virginia statesmen
and public presses since her sad fall in 1852, without marking her steady
drifting to an anti-Southern nationalism.
Once the acknowledged leader of the South, she was gradually becoming
identified in the Southern mind with a fixed neutrality, if not a direct
hostility, to those measures of Southern redemption and safety which events, by
a steady course of progression, seem to render necessary and inevitable.
To go no further back than the very last year -- how wavering and
unreliable was her course with respect to Kansas.
Her leading Democratic organ and her Governor, under shallow pretexts,
supporting WALKER and STANTON in their efforts to abolitionize Kansas, and
aiding the abolitionists in Congress in the glaring outrage of rejecting Kansas
from the Union on account of her Constitution tolerating slavery.
Then her statesman in Congress leading the way to a compromise, which
was, in fact, an inglorious surrender.
And at the very time the invasion at Harper's Ferry took place, one of her
organs -- the Richmond Whig -- was busy in the effort to get up a party
amalgamation between Southern Whigs and Black Republicans, with a view to the
spoils of office at Washington and the next Presidential election; whilst
another -- the reputed organ of the staunchest States Rights men in Virginia --
was openly advocating a policy of coalescence, hardly better, between the
Southern Democrats and DOUGLAS Freesoilers, on their own terms, in order that
some favorite candidate might be lifted to the Presidency, and offices might be
Virginia and Virginia statesmen seemed to be irretrievably sunk into mere
party instrumentalities for grasping national honors at Washington.
If the rights of the South were supported at all, no one out of Virginia
seemed to suppose that any higher motive actuated her presses or here statesmen
as a body, than to obtain from the confidence of the Southern States a certain
political power to be used for the furtherance of Presidential and other
The Harper's Ferry emeute, like a slap
in the face, appears to have wakened her up to some consciousness of her rights
The contempt in which she was held, implied by such an invasion -- the scorn
heaped upon her by the whole Northern press -- the imputations of cowardice and
weakness, of bullying and terror -- the subsequent elections in the North,
demonstrating no sympathy with her people or fear of her power, but a direct
and contemptuous support of the very men and party occasioning the invasion of
her soil and the murder of her citizens, have shown Virginia, that of the
South, she ought to be with the South.
It is now clear that she has been for years the subject of abolition
The running off of her slaves was but a part of a policy to force on her
emancipation; and the late invasion showed how far it was supposed this policy
She was another Kansas, ready for the operation of Sharpe's rifles and
We are happy to perceive a decided change in the tone of the public press of
Virginia, indicative, we trust, of a change also in her
Whig no longer advocates a union of Southern Whigs and Black
Republicans to control the House of Representatives or win the Presidential
Examiner no longer urges that the rights of the South should be
ignored in the Charleston Convention, and the Democratic party at the North be
alone relied on to vindicate these rights, although they will not, or dare not,
HUNTER and DOUGLAS do not make ugly faces from its columns, in
Spoils land President-making, removed to an advantageous distance by the
decided overthrow of the Democratic party throughout the Northern States, seem
now subordinate to Southern safety and honor.
The signs are cheering that Virginia will be herself again.
The boast of one of her presses that "there are no disunionists in
Virginia," if true six months ago, we trust is now a thing of history, never
again to be asserted, until the South is safe and free in the Union, or
independent out of it.
This document was produced as part of a document analysis project
by Lloyd Benson, Department of History, Furman University.
(Proofing info: Entered by Ben Barnhill, Proofed by Ryan Burgess.)
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