Secession Era Editorials Project

Slavery Agitation

Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic]

(3 June 1854)

We lay before our readers this morning, the able and interesting speech of Mr. BOYCE, recently made in the House of Representatives. It contains thoughts and matter worthy of special note, in view of the momentous events which are now impending over the country. It is a fact which cannot be disguised, that the passage of the Nebraska Bill is the renewal of agitation of the subject of slavery, under circumstances, too, of unprecedented intensity and bitterness. For several days past we have collated extracts from leading journals in various quarters, and of different parties, of the North, breathing a bitterness and resentment at what they pretend to consider a gross betrayal of faith, and a deliberate outrage upon them. They all unite in proclaiming the renewal of war to the death upon the South, and her institutions. So, too, the New York Courier and Enquirer, in an article which decries all forcible resistance, to the Fugitive law, and counsels obedience to it so long as it remains on the statute book, uses the following language:

"But here our duty will cease. We shall never become the apologists for the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, or the advocates or defenders of the Compromise of 1850, until the Compromise of 1820 be restored to the statute books; and all who were concerned in the passage of the Nebraska Bill, will very shortly learn, that they have raised a feeling throughout the entire North, which argues evil to the whole question of slavery and destruction to all the Compromises upon which it rests. The very silence of the North -- the apparent submission of all parties to the Nebraska outrage-- to us wears an aspect of determination which, threatens dangers to the Union.

Never before have we witnessed such intense determination upon any subject as exists in relation to the Nebraska outrage. Every Union man that we have conversed with -- every Whig, and every Democrat -- unite in expressing their indignation at this great National outrage, and there determination to resort at once to the only constitutional remedy -- Repeal."

The New York Times holds this same opinion, though uttered in coarse and insolent terms. The State and press of South Carolina can well despise the abuse of a paper whose editor has been baptized in the sewers of personalities, which daily flow from Northern journalism.

Again, Mr. SEWARD, in his last speech, made in the Senate on the night of the passage of the Nebraska bill, closed his remarks thus:

" It is an extraordinary circumstance, which you, Sir, the present occupant of the Chair, Mr. STEWART, I am sure will not gainsay, that at this moment, when there seems to be more complete divergence of the Federal Government in favor of Slavery than ever before, the sentiment of universal Liberty is stronger in all the Free States than it ever was before. With that principle the present Democratic party must now come into a closer contest. Their prestige of Democracy is fast waning by reason of the hard service which their alliance with their slaveholding brethren imposed upon them. I see in that circumstance and in the fact that they are brought, by supporting the interest of the slave labor in the new Territories, in opposition to the free laborers of the North in the new Territories and States, that they are losing, and are destined to lose, by persevering in that policy, the power which they have held so firmly and so long. That power will not come back to them again, until the principle established here now shall be reversed, and a Constitution shall be given not only to Kansas and Nebraska, but also even to other national Territory, which will not be a tabula rasa, but a Constitution securing equal, universal and perpetual Freedom."

And now, as the first startling outbreak of fierce passion, we have the meeting at Feneuil Hall, the speeches of THEODORE PARKER, and of WENDELL PHILLIPS, declaring that although Pennsylvania had repudiated her money debts, "she had more than repaid them in the fact, that the blood of slaveholder had been shed on her soil"-- the mob in Boston, and the chapter not yet indeed ended, of riot, violence, and bloodshed. The language of PHILLIPS carries us back to the time when a citizen of Maryland was slain in cold blood in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, in attempting to recover his fugitive slave, while not only the mob, but even theological professors and officers, looked on with approbation. We remember, too, how in Boston, but four years ago, after a most tedious and expensive suit, in the face of all sorts of dangers and obstacles, a Southerner succeeded finally in regaining his property,-- what a shout of congratulation went up from the compromisers everywhere, and how President FILLMORE, in the fullness of his delight, over this so-called triumph of law and the Constitution, addressed a letter to the people of Boston, extolling their order-loving spirit and patriotism. There were some, and the Mercury of the number, who could see no cause, in all this, for Southern congratulation; no prospect of any real or available benefit. We recognised in the Fugitive Law a plausible yet worthless pretext for the submission of the South, to terms which no party, at least in South Carolina, ventured to approve. We predicted increasing opposition to it, on the part of the North; and that its execution would be so embarrassed by personal perils and pecuniary losses, that slaveowners would finally abandon all attempts to recover their property under its provisions. And how stand the facts now? The New York Herald tells us that "Fugitive Slaves are daily escaping to the North, and violence or fraud is rendering the Constitution a dead letter" that, "the solid men of Boston will not listen to THEODORE PARKER when he calls for blood and disunion; but the same solid men will permit the United States Marshal to be deterred from discharging his duty, and will connive at the breaking open of court houses, the murder of constables, and the supremacy of a lawless mob of abolitionists."

The New York Courier and Enquirer says that henceforward it will be impossible to execute the law, except by a resort to force. Such is the prospect before us Should it not awaken the deepest attention on the part of the South? The peace which she promised herself, as the return for so much concession, is at an end. She read history with the eyes of hope, rather than of truth. The Abolition party appears now upon the field stronger than ever before. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise has struck a chord in the Northern heart, whose echoes abolitionism will ring from one end of the land to the other. It dismembers the Democratic party, and compels it to an issue hostile to the South. The Whigs stand a unit on the question. Not one from the North, in either House or Senate, voted for the bill.

We look, then, for a renewal of the struggle. The Boston riot is a link in the chain. It is another warning to the South-- another lifting up of the veil of troubles yet to come. Will she not learn from the past, the necessity of union and harmony in policy and action, as strong as the interest and hopes which bind her destiny?


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