Secession Era Editorials Project

The Right View of the Subject

Charleston, South Carolina, Mercury [Democratic]

(30 May 1856)

The Pittsburg Gazette, after indulging in the usual amount of howling and railing over Senator SUMNER'S recent castigation, comes at last to the following sensible view of the question. It sees that if aggression is to be the policy of the North, it is necessary to have the armed band, as well as the venomed tongue and malignant vote. We are surprised that the North has not opened its eyes to this fact long since. To suppose that war in Congress, and war in Kansas, could be successfully conducted to its issue by such champions as SUMNER in the one, and GREELEY and REEDER in the other, was a dream in which fanaticism alone could indulge, and which is likely to be dispelled by the recent developments. The South certainly has become generally convinced that it is by hard blows, and not by loud blustering and insulting denunciation, that the sectional quarrel is to be settled. We need not say that this has been our opinion for the last twenty years.

For the last year, the country has rung with the threats of Freesoil resistance in Kansas, and the Southern people have been told that if they ventured upon that territory, they would be welcomed with Sharpe's rifles and "bloody hands to hospitable graves." From the incessant and terrible noises made all through the North, we were almost led to believe that "death or victory," "liberty or death," would be the battle-cry of the Freesoil warriors in Kansas. But, mortifying to relate, while these shouts have been echoing through the press of the North, the men of Lawrence have been on their knees before Governor SHANNON, and the rampant correspondent of the Tribune, fleeing from that ill-fated city, like LOT'S wife from Sodom, turned, at a safe distance, to see only a cloud of smoke and dust rising over what he supposed to be its burning ruins. If he was not petrified on the spot, it was evident that it was the extremity of his fears that saved him from being converted into anything solid. But we return to the Pittsburg Gazette. Its remedy is thus proposed:

"It is time now to inaugurate a change. It can no longer be permitted that all the blows shall come from one side. If Southern men will resort to the fist to overawe and intimidate Northern men, blow must be given back blow for blow. Forbearance and kindly deportment are lost upon these Southern ruffians. It were as well to throw pearls before swine as turn one cheek to them when the other is smitten. Under the circumstances now prevailing, neither religion nor manhood require submission to such outrages. Northern men must defend themselves; and if our present representatives will not fight when attacked, let us find those who will. It is not enough, now, to have backbone; there must be strong right arms, and a determination to use them. The voters of the Free States, in vindication of their own manliness, will hereafter, in addition to inquiring of candidates, will you vote so-and-so, have to enlarge the basis of interrogation, and demand an affirmative answer to the question, Will you fight? It has come to that now, that Senators and Representatives cannot enjoy the right of free speech or free discussion without being liable to brutal assaults; and they must, of necessity, arm themselves with sword-canes or revolvers. To think of enduring quietly such attacks as that upon Mr. SUMNER, is craven and pusillanimous. These cut-throat Southrons will never learn to respect Northern men until one of their number has a rapier thrust through his ribs, or feels a bullet in his thorax. It is lamentable that such should be the case; but it is not in human nature to be trampled on."

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